STORY: The 32-story tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is due to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1:04 a.m. EST (0604 GMT) on Wednesday to send its Orion capsule on a 25-day voyage around the moon and back without astronauts aboard.
NASA flight-readiness crews were eager for success after 10 weeks beset by engineering difficulties, two hurricanes and two trips from the spacecraft's hangar to its launch pad.
Two previous launch attempts, on Aug. 29 and Sept. 3, were aborted because of fuel line leaks and other technical problems that NASA has since resolved. While moored to its launch pad last week, the rocket endured fierce winds and rains from Hurricane Nicole, forcing a two-day flight postponement.
The latest forecast on Monday (November 14) called for a 90% chance of favorable conditions during Wednesday's two-hour launch window, according to the U.S. Space Force at Cape Canaveral.
If the mission succeeds, a crewed Artemis II flight around the moon and back could come as early as 2024, followed within a few more years by the program's first lunar landing of astronauts, one of them a woman, with Artemis III.