NASA has once again made history by launching the Artemis I, a rocket intended to one day put the first woman and person of color on the moon and, eventually, Mars.
The Artemis spacecraft took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the early hours of Wednesday, months after the last launch was scrapped.
"The world's most powerful rocket lit up the sky, dazzling onlookers, including @NASA and partner teams that have worked to make the dream of returning to the Moon a reality," read the caption of Artemis NASA Instagram page's post, announcing that the launch had successfully taken place at 1:47 a.m. EST.
There was no one on the rocket when it launched. Instead, the rocket will launch its Orion spacecraft on a 25-day, approximately 1.3 million-mile journey to the moon and back, just to prove that it can pull off the mission safely.
However, the mission came with major hurdles that significantly delayed the original launch date.
Initially, the launch was due to take place on August 29 but was delayed because of an "issue with an engine bleed," announced at the time in a tweet from NASA.
Since then, two months and two hurricanes have gone by, and the rocket was finally able to set off on its mission to the moon.
But the moon isn't the end goal. Eventually, NASA wants to use the Artemis rocket to reach its next milestone: sending the first person to Mars.
\u201cAs @NASA_Orion begins the #Artemis I mission to the Moon, the spacecraft captured these stunning views of our home planet.\u201d— NASA Artemis (@NASA Artemis) 1668594354
"With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before," says Nasa's official page about the Artemis. "Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars."
Next month, NASA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17, the last time humans were sent to walk on the moon.
NASA's Artemis mission manager, Mike Sarafin, commented on this morning's launch and said: "Today, we got to witness the world's most powerful rocket take the Earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it. We have a priority one mission in play right now," as per the BBC.
NASA administrator and Senator Bill Nelson called the takeoff "the biggest flame" and "most acoustical shockwave" he's witnessed.
If all goes well, the Artemis II could launch real people into the moon's orbit in 2024. NASA also aims to put a woman and a person of color on the moon with Artemis III in late 2025.
And after that? Mars!