NASA has begun attaching the first space launch system (SLS) rocket to the launch pad ahead of its first flight next year.
The SLS is the largest rocket to send American astronauts back to the moon in a decade – with the first crew targeting 2024.
Engineers in Florida have begun assembling the components that make up two solid rocket boosters for the vehicle.
The rocket will be launched in November 2021.
The SLS is a giant, 65 m (212 ft) long center with four engines surrounded by dual solid fuel boosters.
Together, they generate 8.8 million pounds (39.1 McVectons) of impetus that can put astronauts to sleep in orbit; The rocket then blows them towards the moon.
Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida downgraded first place in the 10 booster units on November 21 in a structure called the Mobile Launcher. The process takes place inside the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAP) in Kennedy.
When the SLS launches the boosters burn six tons of solid, aluminum-based impulse every second. They deliver 75% of the vehicle’s thrust during lift-off time.
The mobile launcher they are stacked on is 115 m (380 ft) high, which is used to process and deploy the SLS before moving it to the launch pad.
This is a major symbolic move, not just for the decade-old SLS, but also NASA’s plan to send the next man and woman to the lunar surface by 2024, known as Artemis.
“Stacking the first part of the SLS rocket into the mobile launcher marks an important milestone for the Artemis project,” said Andrew Shroble, manager of the Jacobs Engineering team working on the rocket for NASA.
“It shows the mission is really getting in shape, going to the launch site soon.”
The other large section of the SLS – with its orange foam-covered core – is currently being tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, called the Green Run.
The final two Green Run tests – it will shoot its four engines to simulate a large stage drive and, two weeks later, simulate a launch and climb – It is scheduled to take place in the next few weeks.
Once fully assembled, the SLS rocket will be taller than the Statue of Liberty and will be 15% more propulsive than the Saturn V rocket used to send Apollo passengers to the moon in the 1960s and 70s.
Booster units assembled in Florida will launch NASA’s next-generation spacecraft Orion in a rotation around the moon in November next year.
Orion will not carry any crew on that mission called Artemis-1. It will be used to see the performance of the vehicle before humans are allowed on board for the Artemis-2 mission currently scheduled for 2023.
This was followed by Artemis-3 in 2024, the first landing on the lunar surface in 1972 after Apollo 17.
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