First completed SLS core stage for Artemis I mission is getting ready to move for testing

The first completed Boeing-built core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is on the move at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) outside of New Orleans. (Photo: Jim Bridenstine, Twitter)

The first completed core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is on the move at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) outside of New Orleans.

The Boeing-built core stage was moved out of the factory floor and placed into a storage facility before it is rolled out to the Pegasus barge, where it will be transported to the Stennis B-2 Test Stand in Mississippi.

The 212-foot-long core stage is the largest rocket stage built at MAF since the Saturn V rocket that launched American astronauts to the Moon for the Apollo program.

The SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built and the only one capable of sending crew, a capsule and heavy cargo to the Moon on a single mission. The completed stage will provide more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help power the first Artemis mission to the Moon.

NASA is working to build a sustainable presence on the Moon ahead of its missions to Mars.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the design, development, test, and production of the launch vehicle core, as well as development of the rocket’s flight avionics suite, where it is managed out of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Once at Stennis, the Artemis rocket stage will be loaded into the B-2 Test Stand for the core stage Green Run test series. The comprehensive test campaign will progressively bring the entire core stage, including its avionics and engines, to life for the first time to verify the stage is fit for flight ahead of the launch of Artemis I.

NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world and will send astronauts in the Orion spacecraft farther into space than ever before. No other rocket is capable of carrying astronauts in Orion around the Moon.

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