KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA is preparing for the historic launch of the most powerful rocket ever built, a milestone in the agency's program to return humans to the moon.

What You Need To Know

  • Preparation underway for launch of world's most powerful rocket

  • On board the rocket will be uncrewed Orion capsule as part of flight test

  • It's a milestone in Artemis program, which will return humans to moon

On board will be the uncrewed Orion capsule headed up on a key flight test as part of the Artemis program, which will set the table for future human missions to the moon.

Inside Kennedy Space Center's massive Vehicle Assembly Building, the segments forming the two large solid rocket boosters for NASA's new heavy lift rocket are coming together.

The assembly work is being done on the 380-foot-tall mobile launcher, which will ferry the most powerful rocket in the world to Pad 39B for launch in the fall of 2021.

"We are going to get there," says Cliff Lanham, project manager for the mobile launcher​. "We have a lot of work in front of us. We will encounter a lot of challenges, but right now, we have a plan laid out that gets us there."

NASA's Orion capsule is about to make a move to a processing facility to prep it for mating with the rocket this spring.

"I've likened it to sending your child off to college," Cathy Koerner, Johnson Space Center's Orion program manager said.

Years of work has led to now, with much of it sticking to the timeline through the pandemic.

"We are looking forward to 2021 being better than 2020, like most people," Koerner said. "And we are looking forward to being a shining example what we can do when all of us come together."

"It's going to be just a tremendous event," adds Lanham, speaking of the upcoming launch.

The Artemis Space Launch System engine test is scheduled to take place Saturday at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

That same day, Orion will be hauled on a three-hour journey at the Kennedy Space Center.​

All of this leads up to the historic moon launch sometime in 2024, when the U.S. will send the first woman and next man back to the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years — and eventually to places like Mars and beyond.