NASA Rolls Out Core of its New Rocket

The Space Launch System is designed to take people into deep space. NASA rolled out the core stage for the SLS rocket onto Pegasus in preparation for the Green Run test series, ahead of the agency’s first Artemis launch

“Completion of this first-time build of the Space Launch System rocket’s core stages puts humans on the cusp of a new era of space exploration,” said John Honeycutt, the SLS Program Manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “NASA’s SLS rocket is designed to evolve so a variety of missions can be accomplished first to the Moon for the Artemis missions and then to Mars and other deep space destinations.”

Before launching NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon, the SLS rocket stage will take the same water route that the first stages of the Saturn V rocket did when it was transported from Michoud to Stennis for testing during the Apollo Program in the 1960s and 1970s. Pegasus, which previously ferried the space shuttle tanks from Michoud to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, was modified to make it longer and stronger to accommodate the core stage and ferry the SLS rocket hardware. Following Green Run, the barge will carry the core stage flight hardware to Kennedy for launch preparations.

The SLS rocket’s core stage is the largest stage NASA has ever built at its Louisiana factory including the Saturn V rocket stages for the agency’s first Moon missions. With a design featuring some of the most sophisticated hardware ever built for spaceflight, the core stage is the powerhouse of the SLS rocket. In addition to its miles of complex cabling, avionics and propulsion systems, its two propellant tanks hold a combined 733,000 gallons of propellant to power the four RS-25 engines.

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