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'Most powerful rocket ever built' emerges from its hanger and is loaded onto a BARGE


‘Most powerful rocket ever built’ emerges from its hanger and is loaded onto a BARGE for transport to Mississippi in preparation for NASA’s 2024 Moon mission

  • NASA’s Space Launch System was constructed in a facility in New Orleans
  • The rocket core has been loaded onto NASA’s 310-feet-long Pegasus barge
  • It will be ferried to the Stennis Space Center for comprehensive testing
  • Once these are done the core will sail to Cape Canaveral for launch preparations 

The most powerful rocket ever built has emerged from its hanger and has been loaded onto a barge for transport from Louisiana to Mississippi for testing.

The core rocket stage of the so-called ‘Space Launch System’ (SLS) was constructed at NASA‘s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

It will be shipped in the 310 feet (94 metre) -long container boat — named the ‘Pegasus’ — up the Peal River to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Here it will undergo a so-called ‘Green Run Test’ — during which its engines will be fired — after which the core will be ferried to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida

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The most powerful rocket ever built has emerged from its hanger and has been loaded onto a barge (left) for transport from Louisiana to Mississippi for testing

The most powerful rocket ever built has emerged from its hanger and has been loaded onto a barge (left) for transport from Louisiana to Mississippi for testing

It will be shipped in the 310 feet (94 metre) -long container boat — named the 'Pegasus', pictured — up the Peal River to NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

It will be shipped in the 310 feet (94 metre) -long container boat — named the ‘Pegasus’, pictured — up the Peal River to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM CORE STATS 

Length: 212 feet

Diameter: 27.6 feet

Empty weight: 188,000 lbs

Material: Aluminium 2219 

Engines: 4xRS-24

Max Speed: Mach 23 

Capacity: 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory in Louisiana to the Pegasus’ dock on January 8. 

The SLS will take the same journey along the waterways of Louisiana and Mississippi as the Saturn V rocket did when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the sixties and the seventies. 

The Pegasus barge — which had previously been  used to ferry tanks for the space shuttle — was made stronger and longer to accommodate the massive SLS hardware. 

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‘This is a historic moment for NASA’s Artemis program and a proud time for the Space Launch System Core Stage team as the first flight article leaves the factory floor,’ said NASA SLS Stages manager Julie Bassler. 

‘Roll out of the core stage to Stennis ahead of the core stage Green Run test series signals an exciting next phase as NASA prepares for the first Artemis launch.’

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it will be lifted into a stand and subjected to comprehensive tests of both its avionics and propulsion systems as well as its four RS-25 engines, which will undergo an eight-minute test burn.

The core rocket stage of the so-called 'Space Launch System' (SLS) was constructed at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans

The core rocket stage of the so-called ‘Space Launch System’ (SLS) was constructed at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus' dock on January 8

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus’ dock on January 8

The SLS will take the same journey along the waterways of Louisiana and Mississippi as the Saturn V rocket did when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the 1960–70s

The SLS will take the same journey along the waterways of Louisiana and Mississippi as the Saturn V rocket did when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the 1960–70s

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus' dock on January 8

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus’ dock on January 8 

WHAT IS NASA’S SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM?

Nasa’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that will ‘provide the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit’, according to the space agency.

Launching with unprecedented thrust power, SLS will carry crews of up to four astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on missions to explore deep-space destinations.

Offering more payload mass, volume capability and energy to speed missions through space than any current launch vehicle, SLS is designed to evolve over several decades to keep up with modern technologies and payloads.

Nasa's Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that will 'provide the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit', according to the space agency (artist's impression)

Nasa’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that will ‘provide the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit’, according to the space agency (artist’s impression)

These include robotic scientific missions to places like the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. 

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The rocket’s first launch, which will be unmanned, is set for 2020 at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. 

The initial configuration for what SLS can carry past low-Earth orbit and on to the moon is more than 26 metric tons, with a final configuration of at least 45 metric tons.

Nasa intends to send humans to ‘deep-space’ destinations such as Mars and the moon aboard the SLS, with a date for a mission to the red planet set for the 2030s.

‘Completion of this first-time build of the Space Launch System rocket’s core stages puts humans on the cusp of a new era of space exploration,’ said SLS Program Manager John Honeycutt.

‘NASA’s SLS rocket is designed to evolve so a variety of missions can be accomplished — first to the Moon for the Artemis missions and then to Mars and other deep space destinations.’

Despite the present progress, however, the flagship launch system project is already years behind schedule and — according to a July 2019 estimated — around $1.8 million dollars over budget.

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it will be lifted into a stand and subjected to comprehensive tests of both its avionics and propulsion systems as well as its four RS-25 engines, which will undergo an eight-minute test burn

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it will be lifted into a stand and subjected to comprehensive tests of both its avionics and propulsion systems as well as its four RS-25 engines, which will undergo an eight-minute test burn

'NASA’s SLS rocket is designed to evolve so a variety of missions can be accomplished — first to the Moon for the Artemis missions and then to Mars and other deep space destinations,' ,' said SLS Program Manager John Honeycutt

‘NASA’s SLS rocket is designed to evolve so a variety of missions can be accomplished — first to the Moon for the Artemis missions and then to Mars and other deep space destinations,’ ,’ said SLS Program Manager John Honeycutt

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it will be lifted into a stand and subjected to comprehensive tests of both its avionics and propulsion systems as well as its four RS-25 engines (pictured), which will undergo an eight-minute test burn

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it will be lifted into a stand and subjected to comprehensive tests of both its avionics and propulsion systems as well as its four RS-25 engines (pictured), which will undergo an eight-minute test burn

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it will be lifted into a stand and subjected to comprehensive tests of both its avionics and propulsion systems as well as its four RS-25 engines (pictured), which will undergo an eight-minute test burn

The Pegasus barge — previously used to ferry tanks for the space shuttle — was made stronger and longer to accommodate the massive SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge — previously used to ferry tanks for the space shuttle — was made stronger and longer to accommodate the massive SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge — previously used to ferry tanks for the space shuttle — was made stronger and longer to accommodate the massive SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge — previously used to ferry tanks for the space shuttle — was made stronger and longer to accommodate the massive SLS hardware

The core rocket stage of the SLS was constructed at NASA 's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. It will be shipped in the 310 feet (94 metre) -long container boat — named the 'Pegasus' — up the Peal River to NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

The core rocket stage of the SLS was constructed at NASA ‘s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. It will be shipped in the 310 feet (94 metre) -long container boat — named the ‘Pegasus’ — up the Peal River to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

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'Completion of this first-time build of the Space Launch System rocket’s core stages puts humans on the cusp of a new era of space exploration,' said Program Manager John Honeycutt

‘Completion of this first-time build of the Space Launch System rocket’s core stages puts humans on the cusp of a new era of space exploration,’ said Program Manager John Honeycutt

WHEN IS NASA GOING BACK TO THE MOON?

In a statement in March, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine doubled down on plans to send humans first to the moon and then to Mars and said NASA is on track to have humans back on the moon by 2028.

The plan relies on the developing Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, along with the Gateway orbital platform.

SLS and Orion are expected to be ready for their first uncrewed test flight in 2020.

Construction on Gateway – an orbiting lunar outpost – is expected to begin as soon as 2022.

‘We will go to the Moon in the next decade with innovative, new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the lunar surface than ever before,’ Bridenstine said.

‘This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay.

‘We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.’

Vice President Mike Pence, however, tore up these plans and statements when he unexpectedly revealed a new deadline in March stating intentions to put humans on the moon by 2024 – four years earlier. 

The VP called on NASA to ‘reignite the spark of urgency’ for space exploration and make it a priority to set ‘bold goals’ and stay on schedule.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine added a week later, at the start of April, that the agency would get ‘really close’ to delivering a plan by April 15. 

This has been missed by several weeks and the House Science Committee is now vocalising its displeasure at having no viable plan or programme from the space agency.  

 



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