NASA and Boeing have assembled 80 percent of the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket to bring the Orion spacecraft to the moon as part of the Artemis 1 mission. The agency said Monday that the milestone comes after crews connected the hydrogen fuel tank to the SLS core stage’s upper part, which consists of the intertank, liquid oxygen propellant tank and the forward skirt housing the rocket’s flight computers.
“The decision to integrate the core stage structures horizontally demonstrates our efforts to continuously improve our operations,” said Ben Birkenstock, the SLS stages vehicle assembly lead.
Boeing and NASA will proceed with outfitting the core stage’s engine component. The completed core stage is made up of four RS-25 engines and two propellant tanks designed to generate a combined thrust of 8.8 million pounds during launch and flight. NASA expects to use SLS and Orion to send two astronauts to the moon by 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence by 2028.