NASA Rings in Busy New Year in Florida to Prepare for Artemis Missions

The Orion crew module for Artemis I is lifted by crane on July 16, 2019, in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew module was moved to the final assembly and test cell and work was completed to secure it atop the service module. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will have a busy year preparing facilities, ground support equipment and space hardware for the launch of Artemis I, the first uncrewed launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. In 2020, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) activities will ramp up as launch hardware arrives and teams put systems in place for Artemis I and II missions.

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First NASA Artemis Rocket Core Stage Loaded on Pegasus Barge

The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8 ahead of its forthcoming journey to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Teams rolled out, or moved, the completed core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the barge in preparation for the core stage Green Run test series. Pegasus, which was modified to ferry SLS rocket hardware, will transport the core stage more than 40 miles from Michoud to Stennis for the comprehensive core stage Green Run test series. Green Run, named for its testing of new, or green, hardware progressively, is the final test campaign ahead of the first Artemis launch. (Credits: NASA)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — The first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage for NASA’s Artemis program completed manufacturing work at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and was loaded onto the agency’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8 for delivery to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. With NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard in attendance, NASA rolled out the core stage for the SLS rocket onto Pegasus in preparation for the Green Run test series, the final test campaign ahead of the agency’s first Artemis launch.

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NASA Looks Forward to Busy 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA will be taking long strides toward returning astronauts to the Moon, continuing the exploration of Mars and developing new technology to make supersonic aircraft fly more quietly.

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Artemis Program 2019 in Review

The Orion crew module for Artemis 1 is lifted by crane on July 16, 2019, in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Using a sustainable architecture and sophisticated hardware unlike any other, the first woman and the next man will set foot on the surface of the Moon by 2024. Artemis I, the first mission of our powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, is an important step in reaching that goal.

As we close out 2019 and look forward to 2020, here’s where we stand in the Artemis story — and what to expect in 2020. 

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Report: NASA Needs to Improve Oversight of Contracts and Grants

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)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Between 2014 and 2017, NASA awarded Boeing a total of $64 million in performance awards for its work on the Space Launch System (SLS) despite significant schedule delays and cost overruns in the program.

It was only after the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) questioned the propriety of the awards that SLS program officials began “providing Boeing award fees that better reflected actual performance,” the space agency’s watchdog said in a new report.

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NASA, Public Marks Assembly of SLS Stage with Artemis Day

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gives remarks on the agency’s Artemis program, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in front of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — On Monday, Dec. 9, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine showed off the Space Launch System liquid-fueled rocket stage that will send the first Artemis mission to space. The core stage, built at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, is the largest NASA has produced since the Apollo Program.

NASA and the Michoud team will shortly send the first fully assembled, 212-foot-tall core stage to the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi aboard the Pegasus barge for final tests.

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NASA Engineers Break SLS Test Tank on Purpose to Test Extreme Limits

The Dec. 5 test pushed the tank to its limits to see how much force it would take to cause the tank’s structure to fail. This image shows the resulted buckling of the structure when the tank failed after exposure to more than 260% of expected flight loads over 5 hours. (Credits: NASA/Dennis Olive)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Dec. 5 deliberately pushed the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits to really understand its breaking point. The test version of the Space Launch System rocket’s liquid hydrogen tank withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads over five hours before engineers detected a buckling point, which then ruptured. Engineers concluded the test at approximately 11 p.m. 

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Report: NASA Needs to Improve Management of Major Projects

An artist’s concept of the 2012 Mars Curiosity Landing. Mars 2020 will use a nearly identical landing system, but with added precision from the Lander Vision System. (Credits: NASA Image /JPL-Caltech)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s culture of excessive optimism and its tendency to underestimate technical challenges combine with funding instability to cause cost overruns and schedule delays, according to a new report from the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The document identified NASA’s management of major projects as one of the space agency’s top seven performance challenges. [Full Report]

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NASA Will Push Exploration Rocket Test Hardware Beyond Its Limits

Engineers are preparing to push a test article identical to the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits and find its breaking point during upcoming tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This will be the largest-ever controlled test-to-failure of a NASA rocket stage fuel tank. (Credits: NASA/MSFC)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Engineers are preparing to push a test article identical to the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits and find its breaking point during upcoming tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Going with the Flow: EGS Team Tests Flow of Cryogenic Fluids

A liquid hydrogen storage tank is photographed at Launch Pad 39B on Nov. 8, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

With NASA’s mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B for final verification and testing, the agency’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team has completed another critical set of tests, bringing the agency even closer to the first integrated launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission. Over the course of two weekends, teams tested the flow of cryogenic fluids through the pad’s infrastructure – those systems that will send liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) to the rocket at the time of launch.

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NASA Teams Conduct Crucial SLS Booster Stacking Exercise

Teams practice Space Launch System booster stacking. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and Space Launch System (SLS) practice SLS booster stacking with pathfinders inside Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

The goal of the training, which took place Nov. 18 through Nov. 20, was to practice booster segment mate. Using overhead cranes and booster handling activities, the teams focused on procedures for mating a center segment onto a cylinder that simulated another segment. The exercise was performed around the clock, operating three shifts per day.

SLS will launch the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program. For more information, click here.

Orion Spacecraft Arrives in Ohio Aboard the Super Guppy

The Super Guppy is opened at dawn to reveal Orion spacecraft inside. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)


MANSFIELD, Ohio (NASA PR) — Almost 1,500 people turned out Sunday, November 24 to watch NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft arrive at Mansfield Lahm Airport with the Orion spacecraft for Artemis I aboard.  After viewing exhibits, the crowd gathered at the flight line to await the aircraft.

At about 4:35 p.m. EST, the Guppy, which had traveled from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, appeared in the eastern sky on approach.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard comes in for a landing. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Once the Guppy touched down, there was a loud cheer from the crowd as it taxied to a stop for the night just as the sun began to set. 

The nose of the Guppy was opened at sunrise on Monday, November 25  revealing the packaged Orion spacecraft inside. It has been removed from the aircraft and is loaded onto a large flatbed trailer so it can be transported to NASA’s Plum Brook Station for testing.

Crowds gather to greet Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Completed in two phases inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber, testing will begin with a thermal test, which will last approximately 60 days, while Orion’s systems are powered-on under vacuum conditions that simulate the space environment.

During this phase, the spacecraft will be subjected to extreme temperatures, ranging from -250 to 300-degrees Fahrenheit, to replicate flying in-and-out of sunlight and shadow in space. The second phase is an electromagnetic interference and compatibility test, lasting about 14 days. This testing will ensure the spacecraft’s electronics work properly when operated at the same time.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft inside parked on the tarmac in Ohio. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)

After successful completion, the spacecraft will return to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where it will begin integration with the powerful Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I launch.

View more images of Orion’s arrival in Ohio.

NASA Certifies SLS Rocket Laboratory To Test Flight Software for Artemis I

The Systems Integrations Lab at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, includes flight computers and avionics identical to the core stage avionics for NASA’s powerful Space Launch System rocket. Engineers working inside the lab create real-time launch vehicle simulations for the rocket’s extensive and incredibly intricate flight software and avionics hardware.The lab was certified for final integrated avionics and flight software testing Nov. 14. (Credits: NASA/Tyler Martin)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — To launch the Artemis I Moon mission, NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket must go from 0 to more than 17,000 miles per hour. The rocket’s flight software and avionics systems control all that power to ensure the rocket and NASA’s Orion spacecraft make it to space. The SLS avionics and flight software came a step closer to the Artemis I mission when NASA certified the Systems Integration Laboratory for final integrated avionics and flight software testing Nov. 14.

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All Four Engines Are Attached to the SLS Core Stage for Artemis I Mission

four RS-25 engines mated to Space Launch System core stage for Artemis 1 mission. (Credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — All four RS-25 engines were structurally mated to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for Artemis I, the first mission of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft. To complete assembly of the rocket stage, engineers and technicians are now integrating the propulsion and electrical systems within the structure.

The completed core stage with all four RS-25 engines attached is the largest rocket stage NASA has built since the Saturn V stages for the Apollo Program that first sent Americans to the Moon. T

he stage, which includes two huge propellant tanks, provides more than 2 million pounds of thrust to send Artemis I to the Moon. Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans attached the fourth RS-25 engine to the rocket stage Nov. 6 just one day after structurally mating the third engine.

The first two RS-25 engines were structurally mated to the stage in October. After assembly is complete, crews will conduct an integrated functional test of flight computers, avionics and electrical systems that run throughout the 212-foot-tall core stage in preparation for its completion later this year.

This testing is the first time all the flight avionics systems will be tested together to ensure the systems communicate with each other and will perform properly to control the rocket’s flight.

Integration of the RS-25 engines to the massive core stage is a collaborative, multistep process for NASA and its partners Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-25 engines lead contractor.

White House Wants Congress to Provide More Money for Artemis, Dump SLS as Europa Mission Launcher

The core stage test team recently completed structural testing confirming the stage’s liquid hydrogen tank structural design is good for conditions that will be experienced in the rocket’s initial configuration, called Block 1, during the Artemis I launch. (Credits: NASA/Tyler Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The White House wants Congress to provide more money for the Artemis moon landing program, and to save about $1.5 billion by dropping the requirement that NASA launch the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s icy moon on the Space Launch System (SLS).

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