Space

Backbone of NASA’s Massive SLS Moon Rocket Joins Boosters for Artemis I Mission

NASA’s Moon Rocket Joins Boosters

Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

The core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for NASA’s Artemis I mission has been placed on the mobile launcher in between the twin solid rocket boosters inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The boosters attach at the engine and intertank sections of the core stage. Serving as the backbone of the rocket, the core stage supports the weight of the payload, upper stage, and crew vehicle, as well as carrying the thrust of its four engines and two five-segment solid rocket boosters. After the core stage arrived on April 27, engineers with Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs brought the core stage into the VAB for processing work and then lifted it into place with one of the five overhead cranes in the facility.

Once the core stage is stacked alongside the boosters, the launch vehicle stage adapter, which connects the core stage to the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), will be stacked atop the core stage and quickly followed by the ICPS.


The Space Launch System rocket core stage for the first Artemis mission was lifted and stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. The core stage was placed in between the already stacked twin solid rocket boosters on the mobile launcher.

Artemis I will be an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon in 2024 and establish sustainable lunar exploration by the end of the decade.

Related: NASA: Progress on Giant SLS Moon Rocket, Close Encounter With Ganymede, and a Ring of Fire Eclipse

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