Science

NASA astronauts launch Artemis 1 SLS rocket in incredible jet flyby (photo)

Being an astronaut has never been so much fun.

A group of NASA astronauts have shared an incredible series of images of them flying past a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket while it waits on the launch pad ahead of the scheduled launch of Artemis 1 in August. 29.

Images shared on Twitter by astronauts Andrew Morgan and Reed Wiseman and astronaut candidate Christina Burch show four NASA T-38 trainers flying in formation above the 322-foot (98-metre) SLS megarocket at Launch Complex 39B and The Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Related: NASA Artemis 1 Lunar Mission: Operational Updates

“We flew over @NASAArtemis this week, thanking the NASA centers across the country that hosted this lunar rocket at the @NASAKennedy site, and celebrating the upcoming test flight!” Morgan, who has flown three missions aboard the International Space Station, tweeted. (will open in a new tab) Thursday (August 25).

A pair of NASA T-38 jets fly past the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. (Image credit: NASA/Josh Valcarcel)

Wiseman, the current head of NASA’s astronaut department, was far less verbose. “We. Let’s go! #Artemis1,” Wiseman tweeted. (will open in a new tab) overflight image posted on Wednesday (August 24).

T-38 aircraft fly past a NASA SLS rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (Image credit: NASA/Josh Valcarcel)

Birch added that the group of two-seat T-38s included fellow astronaut candidates Jack Hathaway and Nicole “Vapore” Ayers.

NASA has used Northrop T-38 Talon jets as trainer and pursuit aircraft for over five decades. The two-seat trainer aircraft can fly at supersonic speeds up to Mach 1.6 and reach altitudes of up to 40,000 feet, higher than most commercial airliners. “The T-38 is a great aircraft for what we need at NASA because it’s fast, high-performance, and very simple,” retired NASA astronaut and former International Space Station commander Terry Wirths said in a NASA statement in 2011. (will open in a new tab). “It’s safe and known. Therefore, compared to other aircraft, this is definitely one of the best.”

Four T-38 Talons fly over a NASA Space Launch System Block 1 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (Image credit: NASA/Josh Valcarcel)

As of Thursday (August 25), the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 70 percent chance. (will open in a new tab) about favorable weather on Monday (August 29) for the launch of Artemis 1, which will send an unmanned Orion capsule on a journey to and from lunar orbit.

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