In ten years, the core stage of NASA’s first space launch system heavy rocket entered the aircraft assembly building of the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, and carried out unmanned flight with dual solid rocket boosters and the Orion cockpit. test. moon.
The 212-foot-long (64.6-meter) rocket is covered with orange foam insulation. It rolled off NASA’s Pegasus barge on a transport bracket driven by an automatic propulsion device on Thursday morning, carefully pushing the core platform To nearly half a mile from the ground. Turn the steering basin to the south gate of the VAB.
The ground team spent a lot of time in operations. After the self-propelled transport vehicle had problems, the rocket moved at a slow speed, delaying the unloading of the Pegasus barge for about three hours.
In the end, the rocket lifted off from the Pegasus spacecraft around 12:30 am Eastern Time (1230 GMT). The spacecraft was a specially designed barge that had towed external fuel tanks for the space shuttle to transport from their factory in New Orleans. To the Florida launch site. NASA extended the length of the barge to 310 feet (94.4 meters) to accommodate the longer SLS core platform.
The core stage built by Boeing is 27.6 feet (8.4 meters) in diameter and the same width as the outer fuel tank of the space shuttle. The huge core stage contains reservoirs that will hold more than 730,000 gallons of ultra-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant for launch.
The rear of the core platform is equipped with four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines. All four engines are veterans who have performed multiple space shuttle missions.
Engineers conducted an 8-minute test firing of the four RS-25 engines at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on March 18, and the combustion time was the same as the actual launch. The Heat is a final development test designed to eliminate any obvious problems in the core stage prior to the first SLS test (called Artemis 1).
Kennedy officials are eager to start core work within the VAB. Two 177-foot-tall (54-meter) solid rocket boosters provided by Northrop Grumman are provided by Northrop Grumman and are completely stacked on the high bay 3 in the vehicle assembly building. The rocket moves on the launch platform.
Kennedy is now at the core stage. Technicians will complete the renovation of rocket foam and cork insulation. After an 8-minute RS-25 engine ignition test last month, the foam and cork insulation suffered the expected damage. Kennedy’s ground team will also install ammunition to be used in the rocket’s flight termination system. If the rocket leaves the course and threatens the public during the launch, it will activate to destroy the rocket.
NASA’s goal is to prepare a vertically rotating rocket by the end of May and use a crane to lift it to Gaowan 3. The crane operator will carefully lower the core stage between the two SLS solid rocket boosters.
Workers will connect each booster at the core level and connect them with braces at the forward and backward attachment points. Next will be the stack of the upper layer of the SLS, which is derived from the second stage used on the United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket, and an adapter that will support the Orion spacecraft.
The rocket will be named as the mass model of the “Orion” spacecraft, which will be used for structural resonance testing of the fully stacked launch vehicle. Once completed, the team will move the real “Orion” spacecraft that has been integrated with its launch abort system to the VAB to connect to the top of the space launch system.
The fully assembled space launch system and Orion spacecraft will reach a height of 322 feet (98 meters). During launch, the rocket’s four RS-25 engines and two solid rocket boosters will generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust. It can deliver about 59,500 pounds (27 metric tons) of mass to the moon, more than any rocket in operation today.
NASA plans to roll out the space launch system from the vehicle assembly building for the first time as early as August (but more likely in the fall) to reach pad 39B for countdown rehearsals. The launch team will load the rocket with ultra-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant and execute a countdown procedure.
After completing this operation, the rocket will return to VAB for final inspection and preparation, and then slide out again to pad 39B for launch.
NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk said on Tuesday that the agency still hopes to launch Artemis 1 test flights before the end of 2021.
But he admitted that the timetable for launching the plan this year is “challenging.” Any delay in major milestones will put the launch date in trouble and delay the Artemis 1 mission until early 2022.
The second SLS/Orion test flight in 2023 will carry three NASA astronauts and one Canadian astronaut to orbit the moon and return to Earth. Since the completion of the last Apollo mission to the moon in 1972, the mission called Artemis 2 will be the first time humans have crossed low Earth orbit.
According to NASA, the future Artemis mission will send astronauts back to the moon and eventually bring the first woman and the first person of color to the surface of the moon.
The agency said that the space launch system and the “Orion” spacecraft are critical to the Alemis lunar program, in addition to the commercial human-rated lunar lander developed by SpaceX, and a miniature space station that will enter the lunar orbit.
But these procedures, especially SLS, have faced years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began preliminary work on the space launch system in 2011, and then plans for its first launch in 2017. Since June 2020, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has allocated 16.4 billion U.S. dollars for the SLS program since it launched the SLS program.
Other photos of the SLS core phase unloaded on Thursday are posted below.
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