Artemis I vs Apollo 11: Why has it taken NASA so long to return to the moon?

In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted an American flag on the moon, and became the first humans to step foot there. His words marking the moment also marked in history: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Decades later, NASA, in partnership with several companies, are hopeful of making a return trip to the moon. Known as the Artemis I mission, NASA is set to launch its uncrewed space flight on Monday, Aug. 29, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

ARTEMIS 1 TEAM COVERAGE on FOX 35: FOX 35 and Good Day Orlando will have team coverage from Kennedy Space Center, beginning at 4 a.m. You can watch the launch live on FOX 35, and livestream our special coverage at and in the FOX 35 app.

It's the first step -- and a big test-- in the long process of sending humans back to the moon. On Monday, the SLS Rocket is scheduled to launch for a 42-day, 3-hour, and 30-minute flight to the moon and back. No humans will be aboard, but mannequins will be to conduct safety tests for an eventual human flight.

"This is why I wanted to be a part of this event because we are going to change the world," said Kelly Defazi, Lockheed Martin Orion Kennedy Space Center Site Lead and Production Director.


Andrew Schoor, manager of spacecraft payload integrations, said members of Artemis' team were great students, learning all they could from NASA's Apollo missions.

"We built off of what we learned in Apollo," he said.

"Some of the equipment we used was used to build the Saturn launch vehicle for the Apollo missions. So we have that connection from the last exploration class vehicle that NASA fielded to the one we are fielding today."

The Saturn V Rocket was used during the entire Apollo program. The last Apollo mission was in 1972.

He said the SLS Rocket for Artemis is a contemporary update of the Saturn V, and uses newer technologies.

"The overall vehicle in general, the horsepower equates to about 60,000 Corvettes. So it is a lot of power. Much more than the Saturn."

While not as tall as the last moon rocket, the SLS rocket is about 15% more powerful.

Why did it take so long to go back to the moon?

NASA spokesperson Derrol Nail said the answer has to do with changing presidential administrations and national priorities

"Now over the past 10 years, the dedication to go back and further explore deep space has been renewed," he said.

"They are our way to get into deep space and explore not just the moon, but also eventually Mars," he said.

More than 100,000 people are expected to be near Kennedy Space Center to watch the historic launch.