BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — NASA’s Artemis program is ready for take off 50 years after the Apollo missions. Their new moon rocket known as Orion will launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center into outer space for a 42 day test flight around the moon. No human passengers will be on board.

NASA officials say the Artemis mission is signaling a whole new era of space exploration. They say Apollo was about learning how to send humans into space. Artemis will take us one step further in our exploration of the solar system.

NASA administrator, Bill Nelson says the overall goal of the Artemis program is to live and work on the moon, experiment and develop new fuels, and to produce a functional habitat on the moon- all in preparation to go to Mars.

But first, Nelson says the intent of Artemis 1 is to test and assure a safe crew module entry, descent, splashdown and recovery before a human crew takes flight.

“Over the course of the mission, which is going to last about a month, Orion will make its history by venturing further than any spacecraft that has been built for humans- tens of thousands of miles beyond the moon,” said Nelson. 

NASA deputy administrator, Pam Melroy, says Artemis will build a blueprint for how they will accomplish a sustainable method for human and scientific exploration in our solar system.

Melroy says the program will also help NASA define objectives before approaching the exploration of mars.

“We get to practice on the moon, which is just a couple of days away from earth,” said Melroy. ”A place that we can practice, learn, and prepare ourselves for future exploration to Mars and beyond.”

Engineer and former NASA astronaut, Jan Davis, has worked as an executive for the NASA Government Contractor since the program began 10 years ago.

Davis says the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is responsible for designing and developing the space launch system hardware, software, and integration for the entire rocket. She says small businesses and manufacturing companies across Alabama created thousands of jobs for the program.

Davis says this mission shows the world we are the leaders in technology, but notes it more importantly serves as an inspiration to future scientists, engineers, and astronauts.

“I think you can’t put a dollar value on it or quantify it, but the inspiration we’re giving our young people by going to the moon again is fantastic,” said Davis.

Artemis one is scheduled to launch Monday, Aug. 29 within a two-hour window beginning at 7:33 central time. Davis tells us Artemis II is expected to take four astronauts around the moon in 2024. NASA hopes to land people on the moon in 2025 opening the door for the first woman and person of color to set foot on the moon.