This week’s Artemis 1 launch aims to restore America’s lead in moon exploration vis-à-vis China, which by certain assessments has recently stolen a march on the US in a budding new crucial space race.   The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, billed as the most powerful launch vehicle the US has ever built, carried the Orion space exploration craft into lunar orbit on March 16. NASA said in a press release that Artemis 1 marks the first step in a moon-to-Mars exploration approach that aims to take astronauts to the moon in 2025 in an Artemis 3 launch and to Mars by the late 2030s or 2040.