NASA prepares SLS rocket for future manned lunar missions

As NASA continues to prepare the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its long-awaited Artemis 1 mission, its partners continue to build other launch vehicles for subsequent missions aimed at returning humans to the Moon and its around.

Rockets of the next decade

America’s goal is to step on the moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo era. To that end, NASA is developing a program called Artemis. Its new workhorse is a new super-heavy launcher called the Space Launch System (or SLS). The vehicle is currently being tested in Florida before a wet rehearsal begins, during which propellant will be added to the rocket’s fuel tanks. If all goes according to plan, NASA will be able to launch the long-awaited Artemis 1 mission.

During this flight, SLS propelled the unmanned Orion spacecraft into space. The latter will orbit the moon before returning to Earth.

However, please remember This new super-heavy launcher is not reusable. So every flight requires a new car. In addition, NASA and its partners (about 1,000 companies in the U.S.) are already hard at work preparing rockets for future missions.

The SLS team is building not just one rocket, but multiple rockets for exploration missions and future SLS flights beyond the original Artemis launch.“said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.” The mission of Artemis I was The first in a series of increasingly complex tasks This will expand our presence on the moon“.

The first stage of the SLS launcher used to launch the Artemis I mission came from the Michoud factory.Credits: Danny Nolin

where are we?

The Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) is the most advanced stage ultimately responsible for propelling the Orion capsule into space, and Artemis II arrived in Florida last July. It is undergoing final preparations at Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) facilities and will soon be delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

ULA is also already building ICPS for Artemis III at its Decatur, Alabama facility. As a reminder, it is within the framework of this mission that Humans will set foot on the moon, possibly in 2025.

The RS-25 booster and engine (the rocket’s main propulsion element) for the Artemis II and Artemis III missions are also in the final stages of assembly. In Utah, Northrop Grumman, the primary supercharger contractor, has finished casting all supercharger segments for Artemis II and Artemis III and has begun casting segments for Artemis IV.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, which developed the RS-25 engines, has built the engines that will power the next two SLS flights after Artemis I. The engines for the Artemis II are ready to be sent to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where they will be integrated into the SLS central stage. The Artemis III engine is being tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, while the engines for Missions IV, V and VI are under construction.

Finally, remember Each major stage is built by Boeing at their New Orleans factory. The Artemis I mission is apparently ready, while the Artemis II, III and IV missions are being assembled.

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