It’s a hodgepodge of spare parts, but NASA’s “new” and most-powerful-ever uber rocket, the Space Launch System, is poised on a platform at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, ready to lift off Monday in the first step toward something that hasn’t been done for nearly 50 years — putting human explorers back on the moon.

The crewless Artemis I mission is scheduled to run for 42 days on a flight that will allow NASA experts to test the SLS components, many of which have been repurposed from the old space shuttle program and other systems, as well as the Orion space capsule.

That capsule, the eventual home for future space travelers, will be carried into lunar orbit where it will take a spin around the moon and then head back to Earth for a fiery plunge through the atmosphere at some 25,000 mph before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 10.

Artemis I is just the first in a three-phase program aiming to put astronauts back on the surface of the moon for the first time since the final Apollo moon visit in December 1972.

Artemis II, currently anticipated for sometime in 2024, will head to space with a four-person crew in the Orion capsule that will fly the craft around the moon in further testing. Then, if all goes according to NASA’s current plan, the SLS/Orion package will return on a mission that will include a landing on the moon’s surface in 2025. Along the way, NASA wants to put a small space station, the Lunar Gateway, in orbit around the moon and has future plans that include a moon base station, the Artemis Base Camp.

So, why go back to the moon?

In a posting on the Artemis missions’ website, NASA lists a few reasons why it’s devoting billions of dollars to making moon landings, once again, a priority.

“We’re going back to the moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits and inspiration for a new generation of explorers: the Artemis Generation,” NASA says. “While maintaining American leadership in exploration, we will build a global alliance and explore deep space for the benefit of all.”

And while a return to the moon smacks a little of “been there, done that,” NASA says it’s committed to accomplishing some other first benchmarks as part of the series of Artemis missions, including extending manned exploration deeper into the solar system.

“With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before,” NASA says in a web posting. “We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the moon. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”

The primary goal of Artemis I is testing the SLS system and Orion capsule, but the mission agenda will also include deployment of technology that has close ties to Utah scientists.

Artemis I is scheduled to release 10 shoe box-sized cube satellites that will perform various scientific experiments in space, transmitting results back to ground-based communication stations. Five of those “CubeSats” will be equipped with technology developed by Logan-based Space Dynamics Laboratory, a deep space radio known as IRIS.

According to a report from CNN, four of the space satellites will focus on the moon, three will analyze radiation and two will serve as technology demonstrations.

The 10th tiny satellite, NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, will use an innovative “solar sail” to power its flight to nearby asteroids where it will gather data that will “help close gaps in knowledge about near-earth asteroids.”

NASA says its SLS launch system stands at 322 feet high — taller than the Statue of Liberty — and weighs 5.75 million pounds. During launch and ascent, the SLS will produce 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust, 15% more thrust than the Saturn V rockets that propelled Apollo astronauts to the moon.

The SLS is scheduled to lift off from its pad at Kennedy Space Center on Monday, Aug. 29 between 8:33 a.m. and 10:33 a.m. EDT. Watch the event for free via a live NASA Youtube webcast, linked below.