Today, NASA has launched its giant new Space Launch System, a giant center section which is intended to take people deep into space. The main stage, produced in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the Michoud Assembly Facility of NASA, is now going to Mississippi and is going to undergo major tests before it can be first launched.
It is the world’s most powerful rocket to compete with Saturn V which took the first astronauts to the Moon after completion. The rocket has not flown, however. The giant rocket was originally supposed to be first launched in 2017, but possibly not until 2021.
The core now goes by boat to Mississippi’s NASA Stennis space centre. There is a major test that will take all the major launch steps without actually sending the missile into space. It will take place. The Green Run Test will include propelling the core and fired the four main motors on the stage, like during the flight. The rocket is however locked up on a test stand rather than a starting pad. This warm fire takes about 8 minutes, which is how long the main motors are expected to burn during the actual launch.
NASA and Boeing, the main contractor for SLS, plan that the Green Test will be carried out sometime this summer, arguing that the rocket can then be launched anywhere between July and October at the Kennedy space center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. But when the rocket hits the mark it still has a lot to do. The top of the missile is elevated above the heart, and the capsule of the NASA’s Orion crews is also placed above the rocket. There won’t be any people in Orion for the first SLS flight, but the performance of the capsule will be checked spatially.
Only a year later when the agency is opened, the company plans to take on a new SLS, this time with a crew. Boeing argues that from building this first core phase the firm has gained lessons. He noted that the welding was complicating than anticipated and that it was also difficult to construct the stage engine part. “We planned the rocket to be completed at the end of 1970, so we were about two years late,” Shannon said in a press conference. “That’s entirely owned by boeing.”
Unless NASA wants to meet the deadline for human transportation to the Moon in the next four years, the rapid development of the next rockets will be crucial. Meanwhile, NASA also needs to develop many additional elements, such as space suits and lunar modules, to carry humans to the lunar surface. The agency’s formative year this year will show how all these vehicles can really be ready in good time to transport people safely to the neighbor of the planet.