To the moon: Artemis I arrives at launchpad

It took about 10 hours, but the spacecraft that will return humans to the moon has completed its slow 4-mile journey to the launchpad.

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Crews at Kennedy Space Center began the rollout of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launchpad 39B at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, WFTV reported.

NASA said the trip was completed around 7:30 a.m.

The 322-foot-tall rocket was carried on Apollo-era NASA crawlers — the same devices used for shuttle missions and the Apollo Saturn V rockets — moving at a top speed of 1 mile per hour, CNN reported.

Crews will now prepare the spacecraft for the launch that is currently scheduled for Aug. 29. The launch window is set for 8:33 -10:33 a.m., according to NASA. said that more than 100,000 people will be on Florida’s Space Coast to watch the launch.

This is not the first time the rocket has made the trip to the launchpad. Earlier this year it made two trial trips during launch procedure simulations that included everything except for the liftoff, CNN reported.

There are two backup launch dates — Sept. 2 and Sept. 5, CNN reported.

The mission is an uncrewed test flight that will last about 42 days with the Orion spacecraft returning to Earth off the coast of Baja, California, WFTV reported.

The Artemis I will go past the moon in a distant retrograde orbit before it returns on Oct. 10 in what is said will be the fastest and hottest trip made by a spacecraft, CNN reported.

While no one will be on board this trip, the rocket will not be empty. Instead, it will be carrying 120 pounds of mementos that include toys, items from Apollo 11 and three mannequins that are taking the place of astronauts, CNN reported.

“Commander Moonikin Campos” is one of the mannequins that will be in the commander’s seat and will be suited up for the flight. The stand-in has a mission of its own — to collect data on what humans will experience during a trip to the moon. It is also wearing the new Orion Crew Survival System suit. The suit contains two radiation sensors and is meant to be worn during launch and reentry, CNN reported.

“Helga” and “Zohar” are the other two mannequins. They have torsos made of materials that simulate a woman’s soft tissue, organs and bones, along with 5,600 sensors and 34 radiation detectors.

NASA hopes that the Artemis program will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon by 2025 and eventually on Mars.

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