A collection of images from the “Exclusive Photo Opportunity of Artemis 1” tour offered by the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The tour provided opportunities for close-up views of NASA’s new Moon rocket on the launch pad. NASA describes the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as “. . . a super heavy-lift launch vehicle that provides the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. With its unprecedented power and capabilities, SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and cargo directly to the Moon on a single mission.” It’s first flight without astronauts onboard will be a rehearsal for its second flight when four astronauts will loop around the Moon and back.
Disappointingly, a week of clear weather gave way to increasing clouds and oncoming rain the day of the tour.
The Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was stacked on the Mobile Launcher (ML1) inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center. This is the same building used to stack the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo program that originally sent astronauts to the Moon.
The Transporter-Crawler picked up the Mobile Launcher with Artemis 1 on it and very slowly moved the stack 4.2 miles from the VAB to Launch Complex 39B along the crawler way seen here. The Launch Control Center for SLS is the long, low building in front of and to the left of the VAB.
Crawler-Transporter 2, which is over 50 years old having been built for the Apollo program to move the Saturn V rocket to the launch pad, is seen parked in the staging area halfway between the pad and the VAB. The overall size of CT-2 is 131 feet long and 114 feet wide.
A long distance view of Artemis 1 on the drive out to Pad 39B.
Artemis 1 on Mobile Launcher 1 (ML1) atop Pad 39B surrounded by the three tall lightning towers.
The Artemis 1 SLS rocket stands 322 feet high. This is the SLS Block 1 configuration. The SLS Block 1B and Block 2 versions will be even larger and more powerful.
The Orion capsule capable of carrying four astronauts to the Moon and back is covered by the Launch Abort System (LAS) that will rocket the capsule away from the SLS in an emergency during the beginning part of the launch. The crew access arm was retracted away from the SLS during the visit.
Below the Orion capsule is the European-built Service Module hidden by the Encapsulated Service Module Panels that protect the Service Module during launch. The NASA & European Space Agency (ESA) logos adorn the panels.
The mailbox looking objects at left atop the grassy knoll are to protect remote cameras during launch.
A good view of the Launch Abort System and the rockets, the small shower-head looking objects, that will pull the Orion capsule to safety if needed.
Artemis 1 atop LC-39B.
Artemis 1 atop LC-39B.
A good view of the retracted crew access arm with the White Room at its end from which astronauts will enter the Orion capsule.
The closed hatch featuring a round window edged in yellow in the Launch Abort System shows where the White Room will join with the SLS allowing access into the Orion capsule inside the LAS.
Detail of the top of one of the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) attached to the orange Core Stage.
The old, discarded NASA worm-logo, seen here painted along the SRB, is happily getting a rebirth these days alongside the official NASA “meatball” logo.
For scale, note the group of workers atop the ML1 deck just above and to the right of the Artemis banner.
WE ARE GOING! back to the Moon! probably should be added to the banner covered in workers well wishes at the entrance to Pad 39B.
Artemis 1 and Pad 39B seen in the rain from the Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center.