NASA’s Space Launch System — the space agency’s most powerful rocket ever — blasted off on its inaugural mission early this morning, thanks to major contributions from scientists, engineers, technicians and other workers in Alabama.
Following the successful launch, NASA’s Orion spacecraft is on its way to the Moon as part of the Artemis program. Carrying an uncrewed Orion, SLS lifted off for its flight test debut at 12:47 a.m. today from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA said the launch represents the first leg of the Artemis 1 mission in which Orion is planned to travel approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and return to Earth over the course of 25.5 days.
Alabama officials congratulated the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, which spearheaded design and development of SLS, and Boeing’s Alabama workforce, which has also played a key role in the program. NASA says 106 companies in Alabama made contributions to the SLS and Orion projects.