(NewsNation) — For the first time in 50 years, NASA is preparing to embark on a journey to the moon.
The Artemis 1, a 322-foot rocket, will attempt to send an empty crew capsule into a far-flung lunar orbit. It’s the first of its kind launch in the U.S. since NASA’s famed Apollo moonshots in 1972, signaling a new chapter in space exploration.
“First and foremost a test flight. We are really pushing the vehicle to its limits, so there could be some surprises, and it’s at high risk like any other test. But basically it’ll test itself out first at low earth orbit, we’ll do a burn on the way to the moon, and we’ll park it around the moon.” Raja Chari, a NASA astronaut, explained.
He continued: “Then, at that point, it’ll go into what’s called a distant retrograde orbit, which is testing that out for eventual human missions. While it’s there, it’ll go further than any spacecraft ever, one that’s meant to carry humans, in terms of distance from the earth.”
If all goes well, astronauts could strap in as soon as 2024 for a lap around the moon, with NASA aiming to land two people on the lunar surface by the end of 2025.
Liftoff is set for Monday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.