NASA will launch its new moon rocket later today, marking the next chapter in returning humans to the Moon.
The flight is the first in the agency’s Artemis program, and this time it will be unmanned.
However, there will be astronauts on board for later missions, with the first manned space flight scheduled for 2024.
NASA expects the first Artemis astronauts to land on the Moon in 2025.
The Artemis 1 mission will see the first launch of the new 322-foot-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which the agency says is the world’s most powerful rocket to date.
It will carry the Orion capsule, powered by the Airbus-built European Service Module (ESM), into lunar orbit.
Airbus engineer Sian Cleaver is industrial manager at ESM, and as a child dreamed of taking part in human spaceflight before gaining a master’s degree in physics and astronomy at Durham University.
She told the PA news agency: “I’m ridiculously excited, and I think everyone in the team is.
“There are years and years of labor of love in this project.
“This is the first time we will see one of our European Service Modules fly into space and go to the Moon.
“I think a lot of us couldn’t believe it, now we’re on track for launch.
“Now, I think it’s really sinking in that this is reality, this is happening, and it’s really going to start this whole new chapter of space exploration and going to the moon.
“Now we’re on the brink of something really exciting.”
Ms Cleaver explained that the last time humans went to the moon, around 50 years ago, it was about proving it could be done, while the new mission is about proving people can go there for longer and more sustainably.
It will also assess whether any infrastructure can be built on and around the Moon that would allow humans to survive on another planetary body.
Now in her 30s, Ms Cleaver first visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the launch has been given a window from 1.33pm (BST) on Monday, when she was just eight years old.
His role in building the ESM was to make sure all the equipment and subsystems came together at exactly the right time.
Talking about attending the launch, she said, “I’m really excited to be there.
“It will be, for me personally, a very special moment to be back after such a long time. And now to actually work in the space industry, which I still haven’t fully realized, I’ve achieved something that I wanted to do since the 15 years or so.”
He added: “It’s pretty amazing that even at this stage in my career (10 years at Airbus) I’m essentially working on my dream mission.”
The mission will last 42 days, 3 hours and 20 minutes, and will cover a total of 1.3 million miles, before splashing down on October 10.
The UK is part of the Artemis programme, making contributions to the Lunar Gateway, a space station currently under development with the European Space Agency, working alongside the US, Europe, Canada and Japan.
The Artemis mission will be tracked in the UK from Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall.
Libby Jackson, manager of exploration science at the UK Space Agency, said: “The first launch of the Artemis 1 SLS rocket is an important step for the global space community as we prepare to return humans to the Moon .
“The Artemis program marks the next chapter in human space exploration, and we look forward to continued involvement as it comes to life.”