Science and Exploration

NASA Joins Four Major SLS Rocket Parts to Form Artemis II Core Stage

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 27, 2022
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NASA Joins Four Major SLS Rocket Parts to Form Artemis II Core Stage
Artemis II Core Stage

NASA joined the Space Launch System rocket’s core stage forward assembly with the 130-foot liquid hydrogen tank for the Artemis II mission on March 18.
This completes assembly of four of the five large structures that make up the core stage that will help send the first astronauts to lunar orbit on Artemis II.

The 66-foot forward assembly consists of the forward skirt, liquid oxygen tank and the intertank, which were mated earlier. Engineers inserted 360 bolts to connect the forward assembly to the liquid hydrogen tank to make up the bulk of the stage. Only the engine section, which is currently being outfitted and includes the main propulsion systems that connect to the four RS-25 engines, remains to be added to form the final core stage.

All parts of the core stage are manufactured by NASA and Boeing, the core stage lead contractor at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Currently, the team is building core stages for three Artemis missions. The first core stage is stacked with the rest of the SLS rocket, which will launch the Artemis I mission to the Moon this year. Together with its twin solid rocket boosters, the core stage will produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft, astronauts, and supplies beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon. The SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft form the foundation for Artemis missions and future deep space exploration.

Image Credit: NASA/Michael DeMocker larger image

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