NASA announced March 9 that it has completed stacking the twin Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters for the agency’s Artemis I mission to the Moon.
The SLS solid rocket boosters are based on those used aboard the Space Shuttle and are each made up of five booster segments and a nose assembly. Each booster weighs 730,000 kilograms and is designed to generate 14,600 kN of thrust burning for approximately 120 seconds.
Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida placed the first booster segment atop the mobile launch platform inside the KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building on November 21. The second of the two nose assemblies was placed atop its matching booster on March 2 completing the integration of the two boosters.
While the arrival of the rocket’s core stage is delayed following a static fire test that was automatically aborted just sixty seconds into an eight-minute burn, teams at KSC will move forward with fitting the boosters with electrical instrumentation and pyrotechnics.
Once a successful SLS core stage static fire test is complete, the stage will be transported to KSC and lowered in between the two solid rocket boosters in preparation for the launch vehicle’s maiden flight.
The first SLS will support NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed flight to the Moon tasked with ensuring the launch vehicle and the Orion spacecraft are safe for astronauts.
The Artemis 1 mission had, until recently, been slated to launch later this year. However, the need for a second core stage static fire test will likely push the launch vehicle’s maiden flight to early 2022.