The U.S. space agency NASA says it is ready to launch its most powerful rocket ever along with a new crew capsule Monday in a test of systems it will use to send humans back to the moon.
The Space Launch System rocket is set to propel the Orion capsule without any people on board for this flight. Orion is due to go around the moon and return to Earth, with the entire journey taking about six weeks.
If successful, NASA plans to fly astronauts around the moon in 2024 and potentially put them on the lunar surface as early as 2025.
NASA said there was an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for Monday’s launch. If weather does interfere, another attempt would happen Friday.
The launch is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to have humans walk on the moon for the first time since 1972, including the first woman and person of color to do so.
NASA is also planning a moon base as part of Artemis, and says it will use what it learns to inform efforts to send the first astronauts to Mars.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters