NASA has said it is making great progress on building the rocket for Artemis II, the first crewed flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.
Scheduled for take-off in 2024, Artemis II will see NASA’s SLS rocket produce more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust launch the mission beyond Earth’s orbit and onward to the Moon.
At lift-off, the core stage with its four RS-25 engines and the twin boosters fire to propel SLS off the launch pad into orbit.
Once in orbit, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) provides the in-space propulsion to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft and its crew on a precise trajectory toward the Moon.
It is believed the rocket features some of the largest, most advanced, and most reliable hardware elements ever built for space exploration.
John Blevins, SLS Chief Engineer at Marshall, said, “The Space Launch System is a highly capable launch vehicle purposely designed and rigorously tested to safely transport people, large cargo, and flagship science missions to deep space destinations.”
“From the beginning, the SLS rocket was built to first safely send astronauts to space, and at the same time, to evolve to an even more powerful configuration that can support a variety of missions.”
However, it’s not just Artemis II that NASA is currently focused on. The agency is currently preparing for its debut flight with the launch of Artemis I.
Further to that, the team is manufacturing and testing major parts for Artemis missions III, IV and V.
John Honeycutt, SLS Program Manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said, “The Space Launch System team is not just building one rocket but manufacturing several rockets for exploration missions and future SLS flights beyond the initial Artemis launch.”
“The Artemis I mission is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will extend our presence on the Moon. The SLS rocket’s unprecedented power and capabilities will send missions farther and faster throughout the solar system.”