NASA has connected the five main components of the Space Launch System launch vehicle's core stage in preparation for a flight to the moon in 2024. The space agency said Friday that it conjoined the last sections of the core stage on Thursday at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
The 212-foot-tall stage is designed to generate 2M pounds of thrust to lift the Orion spacecraft for the first Artemis mission. The Artemis program aims to revive manned lunar exploration. Engineers attached an engine section, the stage's final piece, to a liquid hydrogen propellant tank already docked to the other components.
The engine section featured systems that facilitate the control and delivery of fuel from propellant tanks to engines. The space agency will work with Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne this fall to integrate four RS-25 engines into the stage's main propulsion systems.
“NASA and our contractor teams are making tremendous progress on every aspect of manufacturing, assembling and testing the complex systems needed to land American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024," said said Julie Bassler, SLS stages manager at NASA.