NASA Joins Last of Five Sections for Space Launch System Rocket Stage

NASA finished assembling the main structural components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans fully integrated the last piece of the 212-foot-tall core stage by adding the engine section to the rest of the previously assembled structure. Boeing technicians bolted the engine section to the stage’s liquid hydrogen propellant tank. (Credit: NASA/Steven Seipel)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — NASA finished assembling and joining the main structural components for the largest rocket stage the agency has built since the Saturn V that sent Apollo astronauts to the Moon. Engineers at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans connected the last of the five sections of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. The stage will produce 2 million pounds of thrust to send Artemis I, the first flight of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon.

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GAO Report on SLS/Orion: Making Progress, But….

SLS core stage pathfinder is lifted onto the Stennis B-2 test stand (Credits: NASA/SSC)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Government Accountability Office released another depressing review this week of NASA’s Artemis program, specifically looking at the space agency’s progress on the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and the exploration ground systems (EGS) required to support them.

Cristina Chaplain, GAO’s director of Contracting and National Security Acquisitions, summarized the report’s conclusions on Wednesday in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.

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Pad 39B Water Flow Test Comes Through Loud and Clear

NASA continued its preparation for the Artemis I mission with a successful water flow test on the mobile launcher at Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B on Friday, Sept. 13. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA eclipsed another milestone in its plan to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024 with the latest successful water flow test on the mobile launcher at Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B.

Using adjustments from the first water flow test event in July, the Friday, Sept. 13 exercise demonstrated the capability of the sound suppression system that will be used for launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) for the Artemis I mission.

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House Science Chairwoman Slams Trump Administration’s Artemis Lunar Plans

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

Opening Statement (Excerpt)

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics Hearing:
Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: An Update on NASA’s SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

….I also want to echo Chairwoman Horn’s comment about the lateness of NASA’s testimony. NASA was provided ample advance notice of this hearing and more than sufficient time to prepare testimony and have it reviewed by OMB and whomever else looks over NASA’s testimony these days. The fact that this testimony is overdue is not only frustrating, it leaves Members little opportunity to consider NASA’s testimony in advance of the hearing. If NASA and the Administration can’t meet simple hearing deadlines, it doesn’t inspire great confidence in their ability to meet the much harder deadline of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024.

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Complete Orion Starts Testing for Shipping to Plum Brook

First image of the complete Orion spacecraft that will fly around the Moon on the Artemis-1 mission. (Credit: NASA–R. Sinyak)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (ESA PR) — The first Orion spacecraft was unveiled in its entirety on 18 July at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. After assembling the European Service Module in Bremen, Germany, and the Crew Module Adapter and Crew Module in USA, the three elements of the spacecraft are now integrated into the full Orion that stands almost as high as a two-storey house.

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Orion Hot Fire Test Blazing Safe Trail for NASA Moon Missions

Hot fire of the attitude control motor on Orion’s launch abort system (LAS), the second to last test before it’s qualified for Artemis 2 – the first flight with astronauts. (Credit: NASA)

The Northrop Grumman built attitude control motor (ACM) on Orion’s launch abort system was successfully tested on August 22, at their facility in Elkton, Maryland.

The 30-second trial by fire was the second to last test before it’s qualified for human spaceflight on Artemis 2 — the first mission with astronauts. During the static test, the ACM produced more than 7,000 pounds of thrust from eight valves, providing enough force to steer Orion and its crew to a safe distance.

Hot fire of the attitude control motor on Orion’s launch abort system. (Credit: NASA)

The launch abort system is designed to transport Orion and its crew to safety in the event of an emergency during launch or ascent. It consists of three solid rocket motors: the abort motor pulls the crew module away from the launch vehicle; the ACM steers and orients the capsule; then the jettison motor ignites to separate the launch abort system from Orion for parachute deployment and a safe crew landing.

All three motors will be certified for future crewed flights after qualification tests are completed later this year. The launch abort system was stress tested earlier this year during the successful Ascent Abort-2 test.

These achievements brings Orion closer to safe flights with astronauts, paving the way for the first woman and the next man to land on the Moon by 2024.

How NASA Will Protect Astronauts From Space Radiation at the Moon

Space radiation is a key factor for astronaut safety as they venture to the Moon. NASA is exploring a variety of techniques and technology to mitigate different types of radiation during space travel. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — August 1972, as NASA scientist Ian Richardson remembers it, was hot. In Surrey, England, where he grew up, the fields were brown and dry, and people tried to stay indoors — out of the Sun, televisions on. But for several days that month, his TV picture kept breaking up. “Do not adjust your set,” he recalls the BBC announcing. “Heat isn’t causing the interference. It’s sunspots.”

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Orion’s Service Module Completes Critical Propulsion Test

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — NASA is building a system to send astronauts to the Moon for Artemis missions, and that includes tests to make sure the Orion spacecraft is prepared to safely carry crew on an alternate mission profile in the face of unexpected problems. That capability was most recently demonstrated with a successful, continuous 12-minute firing of Orion’s propulsion system that simulated a possible alternate mission scenario.

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NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative Opens Call for Payloads on Artemis 2 Mission

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — CubeSats can be part of a historic mission—Artemis 2—when NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will send astronauts on their first flight aboard the Orion spacecraft farther into the solar system than humanity has ever traveled before. Artemis 2, will mark a significant step forward in NASA’s plans to return humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and future missions to worlds beyond, including Mars, and the small satellites traveling along for the mission will help inform the next steps of exploration.

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NASA Decides to Do SLS Green Run After All

The “Green Run” test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will be conducted at the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Flight Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (Credits: NASA)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced July 25 the agency will conduct a “Green Run” core stage test for the Space Launch System rocket ahead of the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission.

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Lockheed Martin Completes NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Capsule for Artemis 1 Moon Mission

Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 lunar mission. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., July 20, 2019 (Lockheed Martin PR) — The goal of humans again walking on the Moon is one giant leap closer. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has completed building the capsule for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The crew module capsule for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission to the Moon has been stacked on top of the Orion service module, which was also recently finished.

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Vice President Unveils NASA Spacecraft for Artemis 1 Lunar Mission on Moon Landing Anniversary

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with an Orion spacecraft in the background. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Vice President Mike Pence visited and gave remarks in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the agency’s Apollo 11 Moon landing and announce to America the completion of NASA’s Orion crew capsule for the first Artemis lunar mission.

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Third European Service Module for Orion to Ferry Astronauts to Moon Landing

Orion and European Service Module orbiting the Moon. (Credit NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — NASA and ESA have a long term plan for Europe to deliver the European Service Modules for Orion. With NASA’s announcement to bring humans back to the lunar surface before the end of 2024, it was also decided that the third ESA-provided European Service Module will contribute to this mission.

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European Service Module 2 Being Assembled in Germany

European Service Module 2 assembly (Credit: Airbus)

BREMEN, Germany (ESA PR) — The European Service Module-2 (ESM-2) is somewhat like the portal it appears to be in this image. By providing power and propulsion for the Orion spacecraft, it will transport humans back to the Moon, roughly fifty years after humankind first landed on its surface.

In assembly at Airbus in Bremen, ESM-2 is the engine of the Orion spacecraft that will fly its second mission and first with a crew. The mission is called Artemis 2 and is set for launch in 2022.

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