NASA successfully launches massive Moon rocket

NASA’s new Moon rocket has blasted off on its debut flight with three test dummies on board, bringing the United States a big step closer to putting astronauts back on the lunar surface for the first time since the end of the Apollo programme 50 years ago.
According to internatioal media reports, if all goes well during the three-week, make-or-break shakedown flight, the 32-storey tall rocket will propel an empty crew capsule into a wide orbit around the Moon, and then the capsule will return to Earth with a splashdown in the Pacific in December.
The launch marked the start of the space agency’s new flagship programme, Artemis. “We are going,” tweeted the space agency early on Wednesday.
After years of delays and billions in cost overruns, the Space Launch System rocket thundered skyward, rising from Kennedy Space Center on 4 million kilogrammes (8.8 million pounds) of thrust and hitting 160 kilometres per hour (100mph) within seconds.
The Orion capsule was perched on top, ready to bust out of Earth’s orbit towards the Moon not quite two hours into the flight.
The moonshot follows nearly three months of vexing fuel leaks that kept the rocket bouncing between its hangar and the pad. The American space agency managed to plug a leak late on Tuesday night while fuelling the rocket for the middle of the night launch.
NASA expected 15,000 people to jam Kennedy Space Center for the launch, with thousands more lining the beaches and roads outside the gates.