Look at the best photos left by the takeoff of Artemis that will take astronauts to the Moon again

A new generation rocket of the Pot It left uncrewed for a trip around the Moon and back on Wednesday, half a century after the last Apollo-era lunar mission.

The long-delayed launch launched the successor program to Apollothe Artemis, whose objective is return astronauts to the lunar surface within this decade and establish a sustainable base there as a support for future human exploration of Mars.

The 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 0647 GMT, leaving a fiery, reddish-orange trail behind.

The Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket with the Orion crew capsule lifted off from Launch Complex 39-B on the Artemis 1 unmanned mission to the Moon. Photo: Reuters
The Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket with the Orion crew capsule shortly after liftoff, seen from a nearby beach leaves a reddish-orange fiery trail. Photo: Reuters

About 90 minutes after launch, the top of the rocket successfully propelled the Orion capsule out of Earth orbit and on its way to the Moon, NASA announced.

“Today we have witnessed how The most powerful rocket in the world has left the margins of the Earth (…) And it’s been quite a show,” Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said at a NASA post-launch briefing.

In this photo provided by NASA, guests at Banana Creek watch the launch of the NASA Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft in the Artemis I flight test. Photo: NASA via AP, Keegan Barber.

Other than some minor instrument issues, “the system is working exactly as we envisioned,” he said.

Liftoff is the third attempt to launch the billionaire rocket, after 10 weeks plagued by technical setbacks, hurricanes and two sorties of the ship from the hangar to the launch pad.

The NASA rocket is seen on Launch Pad 39B prior to launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo: AP Photo, Terry Renna.

The three-week Artemis I mission marks the first joint flight of the SLS rocket and Orion capsule, built by Boeing Co BA.N and Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N, respectively, under contract with NASA.

After decades of NASA focusing on low-Earth orbit with the space shuttles and the International Space Station, Artemis I has also signals a major change in direction for the agency’s human spaceflight program after Apollo.

NASA’s new moon rocket lifted off from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo: AP Photo/John Raoux.

Named after the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt -and twin sister of Apollo-, Artemis aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface in 2025.

The Space Launch System (SLS) lunar rocket with the Orion crew capsule lifted off from Launch Complex 39-B on the Artemis 1 unmanned mission to the Moon. Photo: REUTERS, Joe Rimkus Jr.
NASA’s new moon rocket blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center leaving a fiery, reddish-orange trail behind. The moon is visible in the sky. Photo: Florida Today via AP, Malcolm Denmark.