The SLS (space launch system) is a giant rocket that will send astronauts to the Moon and back with the first crew landing targeted for 2024.
Engineers in Florida have begun assembling the parts that will build the space craft’s two solid rocket boosters. The rocket is planned to make its first debut in November 2021.
The SLS consists of a giant, 65m (212ft) high core stage with its four engines attached with the twin solid fuel boosters. This can produce a huge 8.8 million pounds of thrust force that will be enough to put astronauts into orbit. The rocket will subsequently propel them towards the Moon.
On 21 November NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre Teams in Florida placed in position the first of 10 booster segments into place on a structure known as the mobile launcher. The assembly process is going on inside the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy space center.
The rocket boosters will consume six tonnes of solid, aluminium based propellant fuel per second when the SLS is launched. These booster rockets provide 75% of the vehicle’s thrust at lift-off. The mobile launcher has been made of a 115m (380ft) tall structure that’s used to process and assemble the SLS and the full rocket assembly can be moved to the launch pad for final take off.
It’s a huge symbolic step for the SLS, as the launcher has been under development for a decade. NASA also plans to send the next man and the first woman to the lunar surface by 2024, known as Artemis.
Assembling the first piece of the SLS rocket on the mobile launcher marks a major achievement for the Artemis programme, said Andrew Shroble, a manager with Jacobs engineering group working on the rocket development for NASA.. It shows that Artemis mission is finally taking shape and will soon head to the launch pad. The orange foam covered core stage which is the other big part of the SLS is currently undergoing a programme of tests called the Green Run at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.