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NASA’s mega Moon rocket cleared to blast off



  • NASA’s huge rocket was cleared to take off for the Moon this summer.
  • Around 10,000 people gathered to watch the event.
  • The rocket is 322 feet tall with 8.8 million pounds of thrust.

WASHINGTON: NASA’s massive new rocket began its first journey to a launchpad on Thursday ahead of a battery of tests that will clear it to blast off to the Moon this summer.

It left the Kennedy Space Center´s Vehicle Assembly Building around 5:47 pm Eastern Time (2147 GMT) and began an 11-hour journey on a crawler-transporter to the hallowed Launch Complex 39B, four miles (6.5 kilometers) away.

Around 10,000 people had gathered to watch the event.

Huge rocket, huge cost

With the Orion crew capsule fixed on top, the Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1 stands 322 feet (98 meters) high — taller than the Statue of Liberty, but a little smaller than the 363 feet Saturn V rockets that powered the Apollo missions to the Moon.

Despite this, it will produce 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust (39.1 Meganewtons), 15 percent more than the Saturn V, meaning it´s expected to be the world´s most powerful rocket at the time it begins operating.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the world´s most powerful rocket ever right here!” NASA administrator Bill Nelson told a crowd. “We imagine, we build, we never stop pushing the envelope of what is possible.”

A symbol of US space ambition, it also comes with a hefty price tag: $4.1 billion per launch for the first four Artemis missions, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin told Congress this month.

After reaching the launchpad, there are roughly two more weeks´ worth of checks before what’s known as the “wet dress rehearsal.”

The SLS team will load more than 700,000 gallons (3.2 million liters) of cryogenic propellant into the rocket and practice every phase of launch countdown, stopping ten seconds before blast off.

To the Moon and beyond

NASA is targeting May as the earliest window for Artemis-1, an uncrewed lunar mission that will be the first integrated flight for SLS and Orion.

SLS will first place Orion into a low Earth orbit, and then, using its upper stage, perform what´s called a trans-lunar injection.

This maneuver is necessary to send Orion 280,000 miles beyond Earth and 40,000 miles beyond the Moon — further than any spaceship capable of carrying humans has ventured.

On its three-week mission, Orion will deploy 10 shoebox-size satellites known as CubeSats to gather information on the deep space environment.

Its “passengers” will include three mannequins collecting radiation data, and a plush Snoopy toy, long a NASA mascot.

It will journey around the far side of the Moon, using thrust provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) thruster, and finally make its way back to Earth, where its heat shield will be tested against the atmosphere.

Splashdown takes place in the Pacific, off the coast of California.

Artemis-2 will be the first crewed test, flying around the Moon but not landing, while Artemis-3, planned for 2025, will see the first woman and first person of color touch down on the lunar south pole.

NASA wants to build a permanent presence on the Moon, and use it as a proving ground for technologies necessary for a Mars mission, sometime in the 2030s, using a Block 2 evolution of the SLS.

SLS v Starship

NASA calls SLS a “super heavy-lift exploration class vehicle.” The only currently operational super-heavy rocket is SpaceX´s Falcon Heavy, which is smaller.

Elon Musk´s company is also developing its own deep-space rocket, the fully reusable Starship, which he has said should be ready for an orbital test this year.

The starship would be both bigger and more powerful than SLS: 394 feet tall with 17 million pounds of thrust. It could also be considerably cheaper.

The tycoon has suggested that within years, the cost per launch could be as little as $10 million.

Direct comparisons are complicated by the fact that while SLS is designed to fly direct to its destinations, SpaceX foresees putting a Starship into orbit, and then refueling it with another Starship so it can continue its journey, to extend range and payload.

NASA has also contracted a version of Starship as a lunar descent vehicle for Artemis.

Other super heavy rockets under development include Blue Origin´s New Glenn, China´s Long March 9 and Russia´s Yenisei.

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While rain falls in other cities, the weather in Lahore becomes nice.




The weather on Thursday morning was nice due to rain and a cool breeze that covered the province of Punjab, including the capital city Lahore and its surrounding districts.

Residents of these cities were relieved of the oppressive heatwave that had been predicted by the precipitation as the temperature dropped.

The monsoon rainfall system is expected to begin today and last until July 21, according to the Meteorological Department.

Transportation is becoming more difficult for the general public as a result of the flooding of low-lying parts of Punjabi cities including Jhelum, Hafizabad, Gujrat, and Rawalpindi.

For Gilgit Baltistan, KP, and Islamabad, the Meteorological Department has also predicted the amount of rain.

The NDMA reported that rainfall totaling over 50 mm is expected in the following areas: Sialkot, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum, and Gujranwala. In Murree, Galyat, Kashmir, and KP, there is also a chance of land slides.

As a result of the countrywide heavy rains through July 21, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued a flash flooding warning.

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The United States has reiterated its commitment to providing economic assistance to Pakistan.




While condemned the death of security personnel in recent terror attacks in Pakistan, the United States on Wednesday praised Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to combat terrorism.

US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters at a White House news briefing that the US would keep cooperating with Pakistan to maintain regional security and urged the Afghan Taliban not to use Afghan territory as a base for terror strikes in Pakistan.

Additionally, he emphasised that eliminating terrorism was in the best interests of both Pakistan and the United States and that the people of Pakistan had made many sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. The US will continue to assist Pakistan in its economic aspirations, he said, adding that the two countries were cooperating on a number of fronts.

It is important to remember that the World Economic Outlook Report, which was just released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issues a warning about ongoing global food inflation.

Given the moderate pace of global growth, the global lender has projected Pakistan’s FY25 growth rate at 3.5%.

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A joint parliamentary party meeting is called by PTI and SIC.




A joint parliamentary party meeting was held on Thursday in Parliament House, Islamabad, by the Sunni-Ittehad Council and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The sources state that representatives from both parties attended the meeting and discussed a range of topics.

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