The American space agency Nasa has launched its most powerful ever rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The 100m-tall Artemis vehicle climbed skyward in a stupendous mix of light and sound.
Its objective was to hurl an astronaut capsule in the direction of the Moon.
This spacecraft, known as Orion, is uncrewed for this particular flight, but if everything works as it should, people will climb aboard for future missions that go to the lunar surface.
Wednesday’s flight followed two previous launch attempts in August and September that were aborted during the countdown because of technical woes.
But such issues were overcome on this occasion, and the Space Launch System, as the rocket is often called, was given the “go” to begin its ascent from the Kennedy Space Center at 01:47 local time (06:47 GMT).
“Today, we got to witness the world’s most powerful rocket take the Earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it,” said Mike Sarafin, Nasa’s Artemis mission manager. “We have a priority one mission in play right now.”
His boss, the agency’s administrator Bill Nelson, was also wowed.
“That’s the biggest flame I’ve ever seen. It’s the most acoustical shockwave that I have ever experienced,” he commented.
“I have to say what we saw tonight was an A+. But we have still a long ways to go. This is just a test flight.”
The rocket had a number of important manoeuvres to perform high above the planet to get the Orion capsule on the right path to the Moon. All were performed “outstandingly”, said John Honeycutt, Nasa’s SLS programme manager.
Leave a Reply