NASA’s first 4 miles to the moon starts today. Here’s how to watch.

Artemis is on its way to the launchpad in 3, 2, 1...


NASA has never stopped sending probes into the cosmos, but it is about to renew its legacy as human deep space explorers.

The U.S. space agency will take its mega moon rocket out of storage on Tuesday before its inaugural Artemis I mission, an uncrewed expedition around the moon, which is scheduled to leave Earth as early as Aug. 29.

The first leg of that trip, which NASA hasn’t undertaken since the last Apollo mission in 1972, starts Tuesday with the slow crawl of the rocket and spacecraft to the launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Mission leaders refer to this final rollout as “the first four miles of NASA’s return to the moon,” said Michael Bolger, exploration ground systems manager at Kennedy Space Center, in a news briefing.

Watch a live broadcast of the skyscraper on wheels below or on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center YouTube channel. The livestream begins at 3 p.m. ET on Aug. 16, with the roll beginning at about 9 p.m. ET:

Here’s what the imposing behemoth looked like moving down the “crawlerway” in March for a launch rehearsal.

NASA’s mega moon rocket crawled to the launchpad in March for a key fueling and countdown test. Credit: NASA / Kim Shiflett

It’s been a long time since NASA had a rocket of this magnitude, capable of sending heavy loads of cargo and astronauts into deep space. Not only is the 32-story, 5.75 million-pound rocket — officially known as the Space Launch System or SLS — built to travel to the moon, it’s expected to one day send the first crewed flight to Mars. Robotic scientific journeys to Saturn and Jupiter also could be in its future.

Artemis I, the first in a series of planned voyages named after the Greek goddess and twin of Apollo, is a more than $4 billion launch to fly the Orion capsule farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

Though this test mission won’t include astronauts, the 42-day spaceflight will allow the United States to send a crew on the next, more complex mission, Artemis II. The first moonwalk of a woman and person of color is expected to happen during Artemis III, planned for around 2026.

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