Science

NASA aims to launch SLS rocket in just 2 months

in great shape , The Space Launch System rocket will return to the Vehicle Assembly Building this week.

Trevor Mahlman

The US space agency has spent a long, long time designing, developing, building and testing the Space Launch System rocket. When NASA created the rocket program in 2010, US legislators said the SLS booster should be ready to launch in 2016.

Of course, that launch target and many others came and went. But now, after more than a decade and more than $20 billion in funding, lawsuits from NASA and its contractors are much closer to declaring the 111-meter-tall rocket ready for its first launch.

On June 20, NASA successfully counted the rocket to T-29 seconds during a pre-launch fuel test. Although they did not reach T-9 seconds, as was the original goal, agency engineers gathered enough data to complete the information needed to proceed towards launch.

During a pair of news conferences last week, NASA officials declined to set a launch target for the mission. However, in an interview with ARS on Tuesday, Jim Frey, senior NASA exploration officer, said the agency is working toward a launch window of Aug. 23 to Sept. 6.

“That’s what we’re targeting,” Frey said. “It would be foolish not to target it now. We’ve made incredible progress last week.”

Next Up is bringing the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center for final launch preparations, including the flight termination system. A team of technicians and engineers will also replace a seal at the “quick disconnect” where a hydrogen leak was observed during fuel loading.

That rollback could begin as early as Thursday, Frey said, and workers have made their plan to process the vehicle during a relatively quick turnaround. “That group knows exactly what they will have to do when we come back,” he said. “I don’t think we’re pushing ourselves to get there. We’re probably pushing ourselves a little bit, but we’re not going to do anything stupid.” On this timeline, the SLS rocket could be back on the launch pad in less than two months.

This Artemis I mission will not carry any humans on board, but will serve as a test flight for the massive rocket, the largest ever built by NASA since the Saturn V, used to fly the agency’s Apollo program. it was done. A second mission, Artemis II, will fly a crew of four astronauts around the Moon. This probably won’t happen before 2025. The first manned landing on the Moon, Artemis III, would probably take place a year or two after the successful completion of Artemis II.

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