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Watch NASA's SLS Megarocket Get Ready for New US Moon Missions (Video)

NASA is hard at work getting its new, moon-bound rocket and spacecraft ready for Artemis 1, the next mission of the agency's program, which aims to eventually land humans on the lunar surface.

This new video from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center goes piece by piece, top to tail, through the new Space Launch System (SLS). This is the powerful rocket expected to bring astronauts to the moon, and it may also send robotic spacecraft to faraway destinations in the solar system, such as Jupiter's moon Europa.

In the video, short clips show the progression of each piece of the system. Technicians in the lab put together parts such as the Orion crew spacecraft, the Launch Abort System and various adapters. Some hardware is shown being moved around the facilities of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, such as a liquid oxygen tank that will help fuel one of the stages of SLS. Other pieces are shown in action, such as a test firing of the RS-25 engines that will boost the core stage of SLS off the ground.

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A structural test article for NASA's Space Launch System rocket is loaded onto the test stand at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Jan. 14, 2019. At 149 feet (45 meters) long, it is the largest piece of hardware for the rocket's core stage. (Image credit: Tyler Martin/NASA)

"NASA's powerful Space Launch System rocket and NASA's Orion spacecraft are making progress to the pad," the agency said in a description of the video on YouTube. "Over the course of their development, the rocket and spacecraft have moved from design and manufacturing to testing and assembly and integration. Some of the hardware has even been delivered to the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center."

Artemis 1 is scheduled to lift off in mid-2020, using the Space Launch System to boost the Orion spacecraft into space. Without a crew, Orion will loop around the moon and deploy several small satellites before making a reentry in Earth's atmosphere. The first crewed mission is expected no earlier than 2022, while the first moon landing has been scheduled for 2024.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.