How to track NASA’s first rollout of its Space Launch System rocket

Over the next 24 hours, NASA teams will begin to move the agency’s fully stacked Space Launch System rocket to LC-39B for the very first time. After decades of redesigns and delays, the rocket has finally been assembled and will be at its launch site in a final testing stage before its inaugural launch. Follow below with our rollout tracker of SLS’s progress across NASA’s Crawlerway as it makes the slow journey.

Update: Reached LC-39B

NASA’s Artemis I SLS is currently fully assembled on a mobile launch platform, Mobile Launcher-1 (ML-1). It is similar to what NASA used for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. To get this platform to LC-39B, NASA will use the historic Crawlers that have been in services for over 50 years now.

About the size of the infield of a baseball diamond, this specially built machine will pick up ML-1 and the SLS rocket and move it down the four-mile strip of Tennesse river rock known as the Crawlerway. It will cruise at 0.8 mph, one reason why this trip will take over 12 hours to complete.

Coverage of SLS’s rollout begins at 5:45 p.m. EDT by NASA and will include remarks by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and others. During the rollout, there is a list of milestones (listed below), and we will tick them off as they are completed. Expect stops and plenty of testing along the way as this is the first time NASA is taking SLS on this journey.

NASA SLS rollout tracker

MilestoneStatusCompletion time
Crawler underneath ML-1CompletedMarch 11
VAB doors openCompletedMarch 17, 12:12 p.m. EDT
Crawler engines startCompleted4:58 p.m. EDT
ML-1 jackingCompleted5:30 p.m. EDT
First Crawler movementCompleted5:50 p.m. EDT
Exited VAB High Bay 3Completed6:05 p.m. EDT
First stop: Outside VABCompeted6:09 p.m. EDT
Retract of crew access armCompleted6:38 p.m. EDT
Crawler continues movingCompleted6:58 p.m. EDT
Begins turn towards LC-39BCompleted11:07 p.m. EDT
Enters LC-39BCompletedMarch 18, 1:20 a.m. EDT (Approx.)
Moving up pad rampCompleted1:40 a.m. EDT (Approx.)
Reach top of LC-39B launchpadCompleted3:03 a.m. EDT
Hard DownCompleted4:30 a.m. EDT (Approx.)

Rollout photos

Pre-rollout

Before rollout could begin, NASA retracted all the platforms from around the SLS rocket inside VAB High Bay 3. Then it rolled Crawler 2 underneath ML-1 to get it ready to lift SLS.

Leaving VAB

Stay tuned for more photos from NASA and our own Derek Wise and Jared Locke, who will be on site covering the rollout.

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