HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WGNO)— Later this month, the Artemis I rocket will launch to the moon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but our neighbors in Mississippi at Stennis Space Center are playing a huge part in the mission to the moon.

WGNO’s Kenny Lopez spent the day at Stennis and has the story.

The countdown to Artemis I’s blast-off is ticking, but before the mission to the moon is possible, the RS-25 rocket engines needed to be tested here at Stennis Space Center.

“All of the components were tested one individually and integrated into one big test,” Barry Robinson, NASA Project Manager at Stennis Space Center.

A more than 200-foot rocket engine stage was brought in through the canal, hoisted up by cranes, and placed and tested at this testing site.

“It made the ground rumble, it is 4 engines, normally we test one,” Robinson said.

The testing site had two “yellow boxes” on both sides that acted like grips to hold the rocket engine stage in place while testing.

“Oh man, I can’t describe the feeling, of being a part of history. Testing is one of the largest stages ever. We beat our chests proud,” Robinson said.

Aerojet Rocketdyne shares in that pride because they built engines that combine liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

“It is very important. During the Apollo program, Stennis played a role, and now in Artemis, they are playing the same role,” Mike McDaniel, General Manager of Aerojet Rocketdyne said.

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Investigators are currently in the process of gathering evidence and information to identify the person(s) responsible for this incident, as well as a motive. No additional details are currently available.

McDaniel went on to say, “The RS-25’s nozzle at 9,600 miles per hour — 13 times the speed of sound. That’s fast enough to go from Los Angeles to New York City in 15 minutes.”

Pressure within the RS-25 is equivalent to an ocean depth of three miles, about the same distance where Titanic lies below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch of Artemis I is scheduled for August 29.