Boeing’s 1st Core Stage for NASA’s Space Launch System is Ready for Journey to Launch Site

SLS Core stage for Artemis I mission removed from the test stand at Stennis. (Credit: NASA)
  • Stennis refurbishment complete following flawless test fire
  • NASA to accept delivery of rocket stage to prepare for transport to Kennedy Space Center for integration and launch

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Mississippi, April 21, 2021 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA]  begins delivery of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket cryogenic core stage to NASA today in preparation for launch of the Artemis I mission, the first moon mission in nearly 50 years.

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Boeing Statement on SLS Core Hot Fire

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk, left, and Rick Gilbrech, director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center, right, watch as the core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket undergoes a second hot fire test in the B-2 Test Stand, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for the full-duration of 8 minutes during the test and generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Mississippi, March 18, 2021 (Boeing PR) — Deep space exploration took an important step forward today. The cryogenic core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket completed hot fire testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center as part of the SLS rocket’s Green Run test campaign on the B-2 test stand. The test, which included a full-duration, eight-minute engine burn, demonstrated successful core stage operation and will be used to help certify the stage for flight.

“I want to thank the extraordinary individuals who make up the NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing teams who designed, developed, produced and tested the all-new SLS core stage to enable sustainable human exploration of deep space,” said John Shannon, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager.

Trump, Pence Demand Space Spectacular During Election Year as SLS Schedule Slides Further

SLS liquid hydrogen tank (Credit: NASA/Tyler Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

If you’ve been puzzling over exactly why NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suddenly floated the idea of flying the first Orion space capsule to the moon next year without the Space Launch System (SLS), The Washington Post has a couple of answers today:

  • SLS is much further behind schedule than anyone knew; and,
  • 2020 is a presidential election year.

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New Shuttle Manager: Don’t Extend Operations Beyond 2010

New space shuttle manager John Shannon said NASA should not extend operations of the vehicle beyond its planned retirement date in 2010, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Although the shuttle is an “awesome” spacecraft, it is also aging and flawed.

“I should not have to go inspect my vehicle after ascent to make sure I survived my ascent environment,” Shannon said. “Its flexibility makes it unparalleled in building a space station, but once that is complete the shuttle has completed its mission and it’s time to move on.”

Worried about a potential five-year gap in flight operations between the end of shuttle and the start of Constellation operations, some groups are advocating extending the life of the shuttle program. Florida Congressmen Dave Weldon wants to fly a limited number of additional flights to resupply the International Space Station and to bring Constellation online earlier.