Skip to main content

Artemis 1 moon rocket gets space station flyover in stunning NASA photo

NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket, the first Space Launch System booster, stands top Launch Pad 39B of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the International Space Station flies overhead as a streak visible in the upper left on April 8, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

A serene new NASA photo has captured two spacecraft at twilight, one in orbit and one on Earth, as the agency tested its new Artemis 1 moon rocket. 

The photo, taken by photographer Joel Kowsky, shows the agency's Artemis 1 moon rocket -- the first Space Launch System booster -- as it stood on Launch Pad 39B of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 8. Overhead, a dim streak in the sky   is the International Space Station, which orbits 260 miles (418 km) above Earth. 

Kowsky snapped the photo using a 30-second exposure and a Nikon D6 camera, according a a NASA photo description. The SLS rocket is a a bit difficult to discern in the image as it's partially obscured by the overexposed floodlights of its launch pad, but the stunning twilight colors ranging from deep pink-orange to the black of night more than make up for it. 

Live updates: NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission
Related: NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos 

NASA rolled the SLS rocket to the launch pad in March for a critical countdown and fueling test known as a "wet dress rehearsal" ahead of the planned Artemis 1 mission to the moon later this year. The test began on April 1 but has not gone smoothly.

NASA has attempted to fuel the rocket three separate times, only to call off each try due to technical issues. A faulty valve on the Artemis 1 stack's launch tower is the cause of the latest delay. 

The Artemis 1 mission is an uncrewed test flight that will launch an Orion spacecraft filled with experiments and mannequins around the moon. If the flight goes well, NASA will launch the first astronauts on an SLS rocket in 2024 on the Artemis 2 mission, which will also fly around the moon. The next mission, Artemis 3, will carry astronauts to land near the moon's south pole in 2025 or 2026, NASA has said.

If you're into night sky views and looking for a camera to get started, here's our overview on the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. And if you need telescopes of binoculars, our guides for the best telescopes and best binoculars can help you find the best gear to suit your needs.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Instagram.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Tariq Malik
Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.