The historic Artemis I mission took flight in the early hours of Wednesday morning after months of anticipation

The milestone event kicked off a journey that will send an uncrewed spacecraft around the moon, paving the way for NASA to return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century.

The towering, 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket lit its engines at 1:47 a.m. ET. It emitted up to 9 million pounds (4.1 million kilograms) of thrust to haul itself off the launchpad in Florida

source:NASA

The SLS rocket expended millions of pounds of fuel before parts of the rocket began breaking away, and Orion was left to soar through orbit with just one large engine.

source:NASA

Orion is expected to log roughly 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers), taking a path that will lead it farther than any other spacecraft designed for human flight has traveled

source:NASA

After orbiting the moon, Orion will make its return trip, completing its journey in about 25.5 days

The capsule is then scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on December 11, when recovery teams will be waiting nearby to haul it to safety.

This mission also marks the debut flight of the SLS rocket as the most powerful ever to reach Earth’s orbit, boasting 15% more thrust than the Saturn V rocket that powered NASA’s 20th century moon landings.

The mission team encountered a number of setbacks in the lead-up to Wednesday morning’s launch, including technical issues with the mega moon rocket and two hurricanes that have rolled through the launch site.

NASA Orion craft captures new close-up photos of the Moon

Using the spacecraft's onboard Optical Navigation System, NASA clicked a couple of new photos of the Moon up close