While the Artemis I is yet to take off, NASA and its partners across the US are already working on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the second Artemis launch, which will be the first crewed Artemis mission. NASA said the teams of scientists working on the SLS rocket have made “great progress” in building it for the second Artemis mission. The teams are also testing major parts of the Artemis missions which are in pipeline for launch after the first two, the space agency added.

Artemis is one of the most ambitious programmes of NASA and aims to land humans on the Moon, the first time since the 1970s. NASA aims to reestablish humanity’s lunar presence for a longer duration and turn the Moon into a launchpad for going to Mars. And Artemis I is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions under the programme. When ready, the SLS rocket will be the most powerful rocket in the world and because of its unprecedented capabilities, it will be able to send missions farther and faster.

Having two solid rocket boosters and four RS-25 engines, SLS produces more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch each Artemis mission beyond Earth’s orbit and onward to the Moon. More than 1,000 different companies across the US helped build the Artemis I SLS rocket and the SLS rockets that will launch future missions, NASA said in a blog post.

“The Space Launch System team is not just building one rocket but manufacturing several rockets for exploration missions and future SLS flights beyond the initial Artemis launch,” SLS programme manager John Honeycutt said.

NASA has planned Artemis I as an exploration-only mission. The spacecraft will travel 280,000 miles from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over four-to-six weeks. However, the launch has been repeatedly hit by delays. NASA initially planned to launch Artemis I in November last year, but then postponed it to February this year and now it is expected to launch in March or April.

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