Space Launch System Stories January 18

NASA recently submitted a permit detailing facility construction and modification plans to support its next Mobile Launch Platform for Space Launch System, the agency’s nearly complete rocket to the Moon. We first have to go back to where SLS all started with the Constellation program to understand why NASA is building a new Mobile Launch Platform.

The current Mobile Launcher, ML-1, was initially built for the Constellation program between 2009 and 2010. When the Constellation program was canned in October 2010, NASA started reworking ML-1 to support their new program for the Space Launch System. With the increased complexity and weight of SLS, issues quickly began to arise.

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The other side of the Solid Rocket Booster pictured before has the iconic Worm logo
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NASA invited media to Kennedy Space Center to witness the progress being made with the stacking of the SLS Solid Rocket Motors and to see the Orion Crew Capsule as it is being prepared to be moved to one of the final processing facilities before being stacked later this year.

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NASA is returning astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program ended in the 1970s, but first the space agency must develop a new rocket capable of reaching lunar orbit. Space Launch System is that rocket, and it’s been in development for several years.

Over the weekend, NASA’s Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi conducted a critical engine test on the core stage of Space Launch System and its four RS-25 engines. While these engines aren’t new — they actually date back to use on the space shuttle — but being configured on a rocket to the Moon is untested.

The epic engine test wasn’t a total success, however, as the vehicle detected an anomaly and stopped firing its engines well before the required test duration. The good news is NASA says both the rocket core stage and its engines remain in good shape.

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Space Launch System Stories January 13

This Saturday NASA and their contractors are planning on conducting the final Green Run test for NASA’s Artemis-1 core stage of the Space Launch System rocket. This will be the only time the stage will be fired for a full 8 minutes before its flight.

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Space Launch System Stories January 5

A couple of weeks ago, on December 20, NASA completed the wet dress rehearsal test for the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage. And then today, the agency finally announced that it would be moving forward with the green run hot fire test, targeting a date “as early as January 17.”

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Space Launch System Stories December 11, 2020

NASA is preparing to send the first woman and next man to the Moon in this decade with the Artemis program. Our return to the Moon won’t be like the Apollo program, however, as NASA wants to return in a sustainable fashion: lunar orbit station called gateway, Moon base called Artemis Base Camp, and international partnerships.

The agency briefly paused a critical step in testing the core stage of its new Space Launch System rocket at Stennis Space Center this week. NASA now says it will resume what’s called the wet dress rehearsal test next week. Launching NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and sending the Orion spacecraft around the Moon next year on the Artemis I mission is key to pushing forward with the Artemis program.

The team at the space center in South Mississippi briefly suspended fueling the rocket core stage on Monday after liquid oxygen temperature readings outside of the expected range were detected. Officials described the issue as operational and not caused by the rocket core stage. Now the team believes it has readjusted its fueling procedure to hit the target LOX delivery temperature.

Here’s the latest from NASA’s Artemis blog:

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Space Launch System Stories December 8, 2020

NASA hopes to conduct a critical hot fire test of the core stage of its Space Launch System rocket at Stennis Space Center later this month. The test is the last major step in developing NASA’s new powerful rocket to the Moon. If all goes well this month, NASA will be on track to conduct its first lunar flyby mission called Artemis I with SLS and the Orion spacecraft as early as November 2021.

It’s too early to know if NASA will have to kick back the hot fire test into next year, but a scheduled wet dress rehearsal that started over the weekend was paused on Monday after initial propellant loading to the rocket. NASA says the team at Stennis Space Center will now study data collected during initial propellant loading and adjust the fueling process before completing the wet dress rehearsal.

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Space Launch System Stories December 4, 2020

NASA conducted a readiness review from the teams at Stennis Space Center before the long-awaited Green Run Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) for Space Launch System’s core stage. The teams are all “Go” to begin the seventh and final test before teams ignite the four RS-25 engines (former Space Shuttle main engines) for a full duration burn strapped into the B-2 test stand in South Mississippi near Interstate-10 and the Louisiana state line.

Ultimately, the Wet Dress Rehearsal marks one of a few preliminary steps remaining before NASA launches its Artemis I mission in November 2021. Artemis I will be the first flight of Space Launch System, in which NASA’s new rocket sends its Orion spacecraft around the Moon for a lunar flyby mission. Artemis II will introduce astronauts to the lunar flyby route, and Artemis III will deliver the first woman and next man to the Moon.

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Space Launch System Stories December 2, 2020

Artemis I Crew Service Module (CSM)
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NASA’s upcoming Artemis I mission is a major step toward sending the first woman and next man to the Moon in this decade. The first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft is on track for November 2021, and the uncrewed lunar flyby mission will clear the way for SLS and Orion to carry astronauts.

The Verge was first to report on an unexpected hiccup in Orion’s readiness to fly, however, and the timeline for a fix could come down to the wire for Artemis I.

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Space Launch System Stories November 20, 2020

We’ve seen much of the journey to NASA’s first Artemis mission take place at Stennis Space Center and Michoud Assembly Facility in Mississippi and Louisiana, respectively. This week we get to see the first piece of SLS hardware begin stacking at Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the big launch around the Moon next year.

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