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NASA rolls SLS moon rocket back out to Kennedy Space Center launch pad

NASA's SLS rocket rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Monday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
1 of 5 | NASA's SLS rocket rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Monday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- NASA's Space Launch System moon rocket reached the launching pad at Kenndy Space Center in Florida Monday morning after its slow-rolling 4.2-mile hike.

The trip to the historic 39B launch pad, which finished up around 8:20 a.m. EDT, will allow the rocket to be loaded with super-cold propellants as it prepares for launch around the moon later this summer.

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The crew will conduct what is called a "wet dress rehearsal," where the launch team will go through operations to load propellant into the rocket's tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock and also drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch, according to NASA.

"Teams will work to secure the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft and mobile launcher to ground support equipment at the launch pad and ensure that the rocket is in a safe configuration in preparation of the upcoming tanking test," NASA said in a statement.

It's the first return of the vehicle to the launch pad since NASA found "issues" during three wet dress rehearsal attempts in April, which involved flight and ground systems at the pad and with gaseous nitrogen supply systems.

If the tests prove successful, NASA gets closer to plans to start a two-day launch countdown, tentatively scheduled to start on June 17.

The rocket, the largest ever built by NASA, is the cornerstone of its Artemis program, which will return astronauts to the moon.

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