NASA engineers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, have finished lowering the 212ft (65m) -tall core stage in-between two smaller booster rockets of one of its massive Space Launch System (SLS) on Friday.
BBC News reported that this is the first time that all three key elements of the massive rocket have been together in their launch configuration. The American space agency plans to launch the megarocket on its maiden flight this year.
The megarocket is dubbed the Artemis-1 Space Launch System, carrying the uncrewed Orion, the country's next-generation crew vehicle, to the Moon under the Artemis mission.
NASA's Artemis-1 Space Launch System (SLS)
NASA's megarocket is composed of a giant core stage that has propellant tanks and four powerful engines, which is flanked by two 177ft (54m) -long solid rocket boosters (SRBs) that provide most of the thrust force to propel the Space Launch System off the ground in the first two minutes of the rocket's flight.
The news outlet reported that NASA engineers used a heavy-lift crane to raise the core stage and transfer ut from a horizontal to a vertical position before lowering it to the SRBs on the mobile launcher, which is inside the huge, cuboid Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
Testing, checking, and servicing of the SLS can be done through the mobile launcher, which also transfers the giant rocket to the launch pad. The SRBs were stacked starting last November 2020 while the core stage was attached to a test stand in Mississippi and undergoing a comprehensive evaluation program of Green Run.
During the Green Run test in March, the final and most important test, the core stage fired successfully for around eight minutes, which is needed for the rocket to get from the ground to space. It was brought back to the Kenedy Space center after its refurbishment.
NASA plans for Artemis-3 to be the first mission to carry humans on the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972. SpaceX recently won the contract for the next-generation Moon lander.
NASA's Space Launch System is Taller Than the Statue of Liberty
According to NASA, the Artemis-1 Space Launch System is taller than the Statue of Liberty without the pedestal and weighs a whopping 5.75 million pounds.
With its massive size and weight, the megarocket should not only be big but should also be sturdy enough as it is thrust into space. It is estimated that the megarocket could produce 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust as it leaves Earth.
Futurity reported that this is an exciting time to be a space exploration fan to witness the beginning of the Artemis mission, which will not only bring astronauts to the Moon but will also build colonies so scientists could have a sustainable research environment on the lunar surface.
Additionally, the Artemis mission will also provide NASA some valuable data and insights that they could use in the upcoming missions to Mars and on building Martian colonies.
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Check out more news and information on the Artemis Mission in Science Times.