Artemis 1 Closer Than Ever; SLS Core Stage Undergoing Integration

Stacking of the SLS Core Stage is well underway at this time with operations beginning on June 10th. This is a major milestone for the Artemis and SLS programs. The launch of Artemis 1 is currently NET November 2021, but this timeframe assumes no complications.

The ballet of lifting and stacking operations began on June 10th. This process is complex and tedious, neither of which leads to a swift operation. Teams at NASA began preparing for the transition from horizontal to vertical around noon on the 10th. The SLS Core Stage had been horizontal to receive refurbishment following the successful Green Run test. But it was now time to integrate the Core Stage with the SRBs.

SLS Core Stage being prepared for lift ops | Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Before they could lift the Core Stage, they first had to clear its way. This involved retracting work platforms that had been used to provide access to the SRBs during their stacking operations. This lead to one of the best photos we’ve had of the fully stacked SRBs inside the VAB.

The stacked SRBs with work platforms retracted, awaiting the Core Stage | Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Core Stage Lift Operations Begin | 3:30 – 4:00 PM EDT, June 10th

Once the teams determined everything was ready, they began to lift the Core Stage. This occurred around 3:30 PM to 4 PM EDT on the 10th. Once the Core Stage was supported by the VAB cranes, they first removed the supports it had been resting on during refurbishment.

The Core Stage hung horizontal for a few hours while teams prepared to transition the booster to the vertical position. This was a major step in the integration flow. The transition occurred around midnight June 11th.

It should be mentioned that these images did not come out as these operations were occurring. Due to the timing of the events and the approval process these images have to go through, we didn’t get our first glimpse of the Core Stage in the vertical position until hours after it had been completed. This did prove frustrating for many as you can only convey so much with text. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

We did get this sick timelapse of the Core Stage going vertical though!

The Up and Over | Early to Mid Morning, June 12th

It has been confirmed that the SLS Core Stage has been lifted up and over the platforms and is now in the High Bay. However, no pictures of the Core Stage going over have been released. We will update this article as soon as the pictures are released.

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