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'We're ready!': Final preparations for Artemis I mission to the moon

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NASA is making final preparations for the launch of Artemis I later this month.

It’s the first flight of the space agency's new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. It also marks the beginning of a series of missions to return Americans to the Moon and eventually travel to Mars.

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is the center for development, engineering and management of the missions and hardware that make space travel possible.

At Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, their focus is on the human element — the people riding atop those rockets.

Those now include the new Artemis astronauts who will go on the next great outer space adventure and return to the Moon in a few years.

"No pressure!" Artemis I Flight Director Rick LaBrode chuckled. "We're ready! We're ready."

LaBrode and his team are confident in their new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. It's his job to make sure all goes according to plan, from liftoff to splashdown.

"I got a great team, and these folks, they've been working it with me. We have been building flight products for over five years, training for over three years, and now we're ready to execute it," LaBrode said.

Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight. If all goes well, NASA's newest astronauts are ready to climb into the capsule, including Jasmin Moghbeli.

"When I first got the phone call, my hands were shaking. I was really excited," Moghbeli recalled.

She credits Huntsville’s Space Camp with inspiring her dreams of space travel.

“I went to Space Camp. Then, a few years later, I got to see a shuttle launch, so every few years, I got to do something that kept that love for space alive," Moghbeli said.

Training is well underway. The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory is a giant pool that now contains a simulated lunar surface underwater. State-of-the-art virtual reality programs let astronauts hone their skills for operating robotic arms, performing spacewalks and docking spacecraft. Full-scale mockups of the new Orion capsule and Gateway Lunar outpost habitat module are also available at Johnson Space Center.

It's all the tools needed to return to the Moon.

“I would love to walk on the Moon and look back at the planet Earth. That would be something," Moghbeli said.

Artemis I is scheduled for lift-off on Aug. 29 from Launchpad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

WAAY 31 will be there to bring you complete coverage of that historic event, along with a special report, "The Next Giant Leap," on the Artemis missions.

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