NASA’s megarocket, the Space Launch System, rolls out to its launchpad

On Thursday, NASA’s new giant rocket, the Space Launch System, emerged out into the Florida air, embarking on a torturously slow 11-hour journey to its primary launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center. It was a big moment for NASA, having spent more than a decade on the development of this rocket, with the goal of using the vehicle to send cargo and people into deep space.

The rollout of the SLS was just a taste of what’s to come. The rocket will undergo what is known as a wet dress rehearsal in April, going through all the operations and procedures it will go through during a typical launch, including filling up its tanks with propellant. If that goes well, then the rocket will be rolled back to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building, the giant cavernous building where the SLS was pieced together. Following a few more tests, the rocket will be rolled back out to the launchpad ahead of its first flight, scheduled for sometime this summer at the earliest.

So there’s still some time before this megarocket actually sees space. But NASA employees, guests, and media got a treat yesterday seeing the vehicle for the first time with their own eyes, after years of only seeing what the rocket would look like as an animation. Check out photos from the SLS’s big debut.

The doors to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building slowly opened, revealing the mobile launch platform carrying the Space Launch System. The tower of the platform initially concealed the rocket.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photographers capture the exposed mobile launch platform with the doors fully open at the VAB.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

An onlooker shields his eyes while looking at the SLS emerging form of the VAB.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Guests and employees at NASA watch the SLS roll out of the VAB.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Guests and employees at NASA watch the SLS roll out of the VAB.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

After slowly moving outward, the SLS rocket can finally be seen.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

On top of the SLS is Orion, a new capsule designed to take humans into deep space.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

SLS and the VAB, from which the rocket emerged
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The SLS on the mobile launch platform as the sun sets
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The mobile launch platform umbilical cords are attached to the rocket.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The Sun sets behind the mobile launch platform, as workers look over the edge.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

NASA’s Worm logo adorns the sides of the solid rocket boosters, which will help to provide extra thrust during liftoff.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Workers on the mobile launch platform wave to onlookers.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The massive treads of the crawler transporter that carries the SLS to the pad
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The SLS rollout also coincided with St. Patrick’s Day.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The Moon, the eventual destination of the SLS, shines in the background as the rocket rolls out.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

NASA administrator Bill Nelson conducts an interview with a fogged-in SLS in the background.
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

The SLS on its launchpad at LC-39B the day after starting its rollout
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

NASA administrator Bill Nelson, with SLS in the background
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

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