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NASA is working on SLS Mega Rockets Ready for Crewed Moon Missions

As teams continue to prepare NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its debut flight with the launch of Artemis I, NASA and its partners across the country have made significant progress building the rocket for Artemis II; the first crewed Artemis mission. The team manufactures and tests major parts for Artemis missions III, IV, and V.

John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said that 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 tasks 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.

With its two solid rocket boosters and four RS-25 engines, SLS produces more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch each Artemis mission beyond Earth’s orbit and onward to the Moon. The rocket features the largest, most advanced, and most reliable hardware elements ever built for space exploration.To power the agency’s next-generation deep space missions, SLS delivers propulsion in phases. At liftoff, 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 Orion spacecraft and its crew on a precise trajectory toward the Moon.

The first piece of rocket hardware – the ICPS – for Artemis II arrived in Florida on July 28, 2021. It is undergoing final preparations at lead contractors Boeing and United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) facilities and will soon be delivered nearby to NASA Kennedy Space Center. The ICPS fires its RL10 engine, provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne, to send the Orion spacecraft toward the Moon. ULA is already building the Artemis III ICPS in its factory in Decatur, Alabama.

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