NASA completes welding of liquid oxygen tank for first Space Launch System flight


NASA is another step closer to completing all main structures for the agency’s first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS), a behemoth booster designed to send astronauts on expeditions into deep space.

The liquid oxygen (O2) flight tank was recently built in the Vertical Assembly centre robotic welder at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. After the liquid O2 tank was inspected, it was moved to another area for plug welding to fill the holes left by the friction stir welding process. 

Five major parts – the engine section, liquid hydrogen (H2) tank, intertank, liquid O2 tank and forward skirt – will be connected together to form the 212ft tall core stage, the backbone of the SLS rocket. Boeing, the prime contractor for the core stage, is welding the liquid H2 tank structure – the final major core stage structure to be built for the first integrated flight of SLS and the Orion capsule.

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