NASA set to roll SLS to launch pad for first time March 17

Today NASA confirmed that it is prepared to support the rollout of the Space Launch System rocket from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Complex 39B on March 17 at 5 p.m. EDT. The roll is expected to take around 11 hours from start to hard down at the pad. After years of waiting and delays, we are about to see this beast of a vehicle roll for the first time.

NASA held a teleconference with media this evening to discuss the status of the first rollout of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. They are currently targeting March 17 with the first motion expected around 5 p.m. EDT. This entire rollout process is expected to take 11 hours with at least two planned stops. One of the stops will be outside the Launch Control Center (LCC), where teams will check the status of the vehicle and move the Crew Access Arm to the retracted position. The location of the second stop was not specified other than there will be one. Once SLS arrives at LC-39B, there are about two weeks of work needed before the final test, Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR).

SLS in the VAB preparing for rollout | Image Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

Wet Dress Rehearsal

The current date for the WDR is April 3 with fueling expected to begin around 7 a.m. EDT. The call to stations for the LCC will be on April 1. Fueling SLS will take around 8 hours with the first and second stage loading being staggered. The WDR will simulate a normal countdown and will get within T-10 seconds of what would be liftoff. Following this test, there are about 8-9 days of work at the pad before the vehicle can return to the VAB. This is the timeframe when we could expect to get our first official launch date/window from NASA for the Artemis 1 launch.

How to watch?

If you want to follow the rollout of SLS live, be sure to follow Space Explored’s Derek Wise and Jared Locke for their on-site coverage. You can also watch the NASA TV live stream for a hosted view. However, this is unlikely to last the entire roll. The KSC Newsroom YouTube channel will have a static, unhosted live stream of the rollout. NASA will also stream the WDR on April 3.

Featured Image: NASA/Frank Michaux

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