Turn to CNN for live coverage from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space correspondents Kristin Fisher and Rachel Crane will bring us moment by moment reporting from the launch along with a team of experts.
Appearances by celebrities like Jack Black, Chris Evans and Keke Palmer and performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock and “America the Beautiful” by The Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are also part of the program.
It’s a sight to behold as the 322-foot-tall (98-foot-tall) stack, consisting of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, glows in the early morning darkness at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The stack is sitting on historic Launchpad 39B, where Apollo 10 and shuttle missions previously lifted off.
Weather conditions remain 80% favorable for a launch at the beginning of a window that opens at 8:33 a.m. and closes at 10:33 a.m. ET, according to the latest forecast.
However, offshore storms with the potential for lightning prevented the team from beginning the fueling process, due to start at midnight, for more than an hour.
The hold was lifted at 1:13 a.m. ET, and the tanking process began to load the rocket’s core stage with supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
The team stopped filling the tank with liquid hydrogen twice due to an initial leak as well as a pressure spike, but tanking has resumed. Now, the team will assess if the leak remains and how to address it.
“Launch controllers saw a spike in the amount of hydrogen that is allowed to leak into the purge can, a housing covering the tail service mast umbilical’s quick disconnect, or mating interface with the rocket,” according to an update shared by NASA officials.
Engineers are also working to find out what has caused an 11-minute delay in communications between the Orion spacecraft and ground systems. The issue could impact the beginning of terminal count, or the countdown that begins when 10 minutes remain on the clock before liftoff. But engineers feel good about figuring out the issue ahead of the terminal count, according to NASA.
Orion’s journey will last 42 days as it travels to the moon, loops around it and returns to Earth — traveling a total of 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers). The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on October 10.
While the passenger list doesn’t include any humans, it does have passengers: three mannequins and a plush Snoopy toy will ride in Orion.
Expect to see views of Earthrise, similar to what was shared during Apollo 8 for the first time, but with much better cameras and technology.
The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will kick off a phase of space exploration that lands diverse astronaut crews at previously unexplored regions of the moon and eventually delivers crewed missions to Mars.