NASA’s return to the moon begins Monday

NASA is about to take the first step on its journey to return people to the moon by the end of the decade. If all goes well, a massive uncrewed rocket will lift off from Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning, then circle the moon in an orbit that will take it deep into space before it returns to Earth 42 days later.

Artemis 1 is the vanguard mission of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2025 and land the first woman and person of color at the lunar south pole, a region astronauts have never seen with their own eyes. The mission flight will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a 42-day trip to orbit the moon and return to Earth to test if the spacecraft is ready to carry astronauts.

According to NASA’s plan, Artemis 1 will lift off from Pad 39B — the same launch pad used by the Apollo 10 mission to orbit the moon in 1969, as well as Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz missions — and take about a week to reach lunar orbit. It will stay there for about a month before returning to Earth on Oct. 10.