Artemis I Launch Preparations Are Stacking Up

The aft segments of the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters for the Artemis I mission prepare to move from high bay 4 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking on the mobile launcher inside high bay 3 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Cory Huston)

By Madison Tuttle
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center


NASA has stacked the first piece of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on the mobile launcher in preparation for the Artemis I launch next year. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers lowered the first of 10 segments into place Nov. 21 for the twin solid rocket boosters that will power the first flight of the agency’s new deep space rocket. Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight to test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon with the Artemis program.

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Keeping Spacecraft on Course with Propellant Management Technologies

Carthage students Taylor Peterson (left) and Celestine Ananda are shown here observing the gauging of unsettled liquids during a period of microgravity on a flight with ZERO-G in November 2018. (Credits: Carthage College)

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

Rocket off course? It could be a slosh problem.

Propellant slosh, to be exact. The motion of propellant inside a rocket-based launch vehicle or spacecraft tank is an ever-present, vexing problem for spaceflight. Not only can it make gauging the amount of available propellant difficult, but the volatile waves of liquid can literally throw a rocket off its trajectory.

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Engineers Move Forward with SLS Green Run Testing, Valve Repair Complete

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is completing the Green Run test for the rocket’s core stage, shown installed on the top left side of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA/Stennis)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — Over the weekend, engineers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, successfully repaired a valve inside the core stage of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

The team designed an innovative tool to remove and replace the valve’s faulty clutch while the core stage remained in the B-2 test stand, and without removing the entire valve. Subsequent testing of the repaired valve confirmed that the system is operating as intended.

This week, the team is preparing for the seventh Green Run test, called the wet dress rehearsal, when the stage will be loaded with cryogenic, or super-cold, propellant for the first time. NASA is now targeting the week of Dec. 7 for the wet dress rehearsal and the week of Dec. 21 for the hot fire test.

During the hot fire test, all four engines will fire to simulate the stage’s operation during launch. The Green Run test series is a comprehensive test of the rocket’s core stage before it launches Artemis missions to the Moon. NASA remains on track to launch Artemis I by November 2021.

Senate Appropriations Committee Sticks a Fork in NASA’s 2024 Moon Landing Plan

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It looks as if the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts on the moon in 2024 is expiring at about the same time as the administration itself. The fatal blow is being struck by Congress, not the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released a fiscal year 2021 funding bill that includes $1 billion for NASA to Human Landing System (HLS) that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program. The amount is far short of the $3.2 billion that NASA has said is needed for HLS to keep the 2024 landing on schedule.

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Orion is ‘Fairing’ Well and Moving Ahead Toward Artemis I

The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission is in view inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay on Oct. 28. Attached below Orion are the crew module adapter and the European Service Module with spacecraft adapter jettison fairings installed. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

By Tiffany Fairley
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Three spacecraft adapter jettison fairing panels have now been fitted onto Orion’s European Service Module as production accelerates inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s  Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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NASA Seeks New Partners to Help Put All Eyes on Artemis Moon Missions

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is seeking new partners to help the agency tell the story of human exploration at the Moon with the Artemis program in ways that engage, excite, and inspire a worldwide audience. Through the end of this decade, NASA will explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and will establish a sustainable human presence with Artemis in preparation for future human missions to Mars.

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The Propulsion We’re Supplying, It’s Electrifying

A solar electric propulsion Hall Effect thruster being tested under vacuum conditions at NASA. (Credits: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — Since the beginning of the space program, people have been captivated by big, powerful rockets—like NASA’s Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo to the lunar surface, or the Space Launch System that will produce millions of pounds of thrust as it sends Artemis astronauts back to the Moon.

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Northrop Grumman to Provide 6 Additional Orion Abort & Attitude Control Motors

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

PROMONTORY, Utah – Oct. 10, 2020 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) will continue supporting NASA’s Artemis missions by providing six additional abort motors and attitude control motors (ACM) for the Orion human spaceflight capsule’s Launch Abort System (LAS), under an agreement with Lockheed Martin, Orion’s prime contractor.

These motors will be used for six crewed Artemis missions III-VIII and are the first procured under the new Orion production contract.

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Future Rocket Engines May Include Large-Scale 3D Printing

Blown powder directed energy deposition can produce large structures – such as these engine nozzles – cheaper and quicker than traditional fabrication techniques. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As part of the Artemis  program, NASA is returning astronauts to the Moon where we will prepare for human exploration of Mars. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, experts from NASA, industry, and academia are pioneering methods to print the rocket parts that could power those journeys.

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Bolden Says SLS “Will Go Away,” Expects Few Other Changes at NASA if Biden Elected

Charles Bolden

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says he expects the agency’s expensive Space Launch System (SLS) will go away under during the next presidential term.

“SLS will go away. It could go away during a Biden administration or a next Trump administration … because at some point commercial entities are going to catch up,” he told Politico. “They are really going to build a heavy lift launch vehicle sort of like SLS that they will be able to fly for a much cheaper price than NASA can do SLS. That’s just the way it works.”

Congress will have something to say about the giant rocket designed to return astronauts to the moon under NASA’s Artemis program. Legislators have protected SLS and its two related programs, the Orion spacecraft and Exploration Ground Systems, despite large cost overruns and years of delays.

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Northrop Grumman Successfully Tests NASA’s Space Launch System Booster for Artemis Missions

Space Launch System solid rocket booster test. (Credit: NASA webcast)

PROMONTORY, Utah, Sept. 2, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – NASA and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) have successfully conducted a full-scale static fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket motor, known as Flight Support Booster (FSB-1), in Promontory.

During the test, the 154-foot-long, five-segment rocket motor fired for just over two minutes, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust. Two SLS boosters will provide more than 75 percent of the initial thrust for an SLS launch.

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Northrop Grumman Conducts Hot Fire of SLS Solid Rocket Booster

Space Launch System solid rocket booster test. (Credit: NASA webcast)

Northrop Grumman conducted a two-minute hot fire test of the solid rocket booster to be used on the NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) for sending astronauts to the moon. The test was conducted in Promontory, Utah.

The hot fire, which was webcast on NASA TV, appeared to go as planned. We are awaiting a press conference and a formal statement by the company.

Orion Completes Key Review for Artemis I Mission

Orion fitted to its adapter for the Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) –NASA’s Orion Program has completed the System Acceptance Review and Design Certification Review to certify the Artemis I spacecraft is fit for flight, ready to venture from Earth to the lunar vicinity, and return home for landing and recovery.

The review examined every spacecraft system, all test data, inspection reports, and analyses that support verification, to ensure every aspect of the spacecraft has the right technical maturity.

In effect, the review gives the stamp of approval to the entire spacecraft development effort and is the final formal milestone to pass before integration with the Space Launch System rocket.

In addition to spacecraft design, the review certified all reliability and safety analyses, production quality and configuration management systems, and operations manuals.

Orion, the Space Launch System, and Exploration Ground Systems programs are foundational elements of the Artemis program, beginning with Artemis I, the first integrated flight test of Orion and SLS next year. Artemis II will follow as the first human mission, taking astronauts farther into space than ever before.

NASA to Highlight Artemis Booster Test with Live Broadcast, Media Teleconference

Teams have installed the flight support booster (FSB) for later versions of the solid rocket boosters on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket into the test stand in Promontory, Utah. NASA and Northrop Grumman, the SLS booster lead contractor, will conduct a two-minute, full-duration test with the booster on Sept. 2. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

PROMONTORY, Utah (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket full-scale booster test at 2:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 2, on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed by a media teleconference.

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Eyes Forward as Artemis Missions Set to Begin Next Year

by Kathy Lueders
Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight

Jumping headfirst into the Artemis program has been one of the highlights in my transition as the associate administrator for human spaceflight. With an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there was little time for a transition period as mission essential work needed to continue as safely as possible.

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