The Orion spacecraft that will be used for NASA’s Artemis 1 Moon mission has been moved into the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to be stacked atop its SLS launch vehicle.
Artemis 1 is an uncrewed test flight of the crew capsule and launch vehicle that will return human beings to the Moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo program in 1972.
Standing at just over 20 meters tall, the Orion spacecraft stack includes the Airbus-built European Service Module (ESM), the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft, and the launch abort tower, which is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and incorporates rocket motors from Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne.
The Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft stacked with its ESM was moved from the Kennedy Space Center’s Multi-Payload Processing Facility to the Launch Abort System Facility on July 10 to be fitted with its launch abort tower.
On October 19, the completed stack transversed the 10-kilometer distance from the Launch Abort System Facility to the VAB. The journey took approximately 4 hours at an average speed of around 4.8 kilometers per hour.
Now just meters away from its SLS launch vehicle, the Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft is expected to be stacked within the next few days.
The Artemis 1 mission is slated to be launched in the first quarter of 2022. Once the spacecraft is deployed, it will begin a 25-day journey to the Moon and back.