NASA has announced that it has shipped its SLS Core Stage to Kennedy Space Center. The SLS Core stage rocket departed the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, after completing its Green Run series of tests of the core stage design and systems. Arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the final stop for the rocket prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the moon.
At the Kennedy Space Center, the SLS Core Stage rocket will be integrated with the rest of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft in preparation for launch. The Artemis program is one of the most ambitious NASA programs since the Apollo era. Artemis will return humans to the moon, including the first woman and first person of color. NASA says SLS is the world’s most powerful rocket and will be the backbone of the Artemis program and future NASA deep space missions.
SLS Core Stage is 212 feet tall and 27.6 feet in diameter, making it the tallest flight component NASA has ever constructed. It uses a quartet of RS-25 engines built by Boeing. Throughout its Green Stage testing, each system, including avionics, hydraulics, and propulsion were turned on and checked to ensure they would function correctly for the duration of launch.
The most exciting test conducted was the hot fire test that saw the four engines fire for more than eight minutes generating a combined 1.6 million pounds of thrust. That was the most powerful test conducted at Stennis and over for decades. The SLS core stage was removed from the testing stand on April 19 and 20th where it was lifted from its vertical install position using a pair of cranes and lowered to a horizontal position. Special transporters were then used to load the core stage aboard the Pegasus barge to be shipped to Florida.