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article imageCore stage of NASA's SLS 'megarocket' to undergo 'key testing'

By Karen Graham     Jan 9, 2020 in Technology
The heart of NASA's first Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket is on the move. The 212-foot (65 meters) long core stage of the "megarocket" left New Orleans - headed for Mississippi by barge - for crucial tests to assess its readiness for launch.
On Wednesday, Nasa deputy administrator Jim Morhard attended the roll-out of the rocket stage from the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans where it was built. The core stage was loaded onto NASA's Pegasus barge for the trip to NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Once there, the booster will undergo a grueling series of tests called a "green run" that is designed to demonstrate the booster's capabilities. This includes operating all the core stage systems simultaneously for the first time, according to the BBC.
The upcoming tests are critical to NASA's plans to send the Orion spacecraft - Nasa's next-generation crew vehicle - on its way to the Moon. The maiden-launch of Artemis-1 is expected to occur some time in 2021.
The stage will be transported by water from its factory in New Orleans to Mississippi.
The stage will be transported by water from its factory in New Orleans to Mississippi.
NASA - Jared Lyons
The Power to Explore Beyond Earth’s Orbit
Every configuration of the Space Launch System (SLS) will use the same core stage with four RS-25 engines. So the first vehicle, the Block 1, will be capable of sending about 26 metric tons or 57,000 pounds into orbits beyond the Moon. To achieve this, Block 1 will be powered by twin five-segment solid rocket boosters and four RS-25 liquid-propellant engines.
The Artemis 1 mission will use the Block 1 configuration. The megarocket is about the height of a 30-story building and is 322 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, and weighs 5.75 million pounds. SLS will produce 8.8 million pounded of maximum thrust, 15 percent more thrust than the Saturn V rocket.
It is no secret that NASA's SLS is way over budget - an estimated $14 billion - and struggling to meet its schedule, according to reports back in March 2019. And all this money and time has gone into something that is clearly not ready to launch the Orion crew capsule into orbit.
This illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 cargo configuration. In pl...
This illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 cargo configuration. In place of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, there is a fairing to protect cargo, or payloads, during launch.
NASA
Dating back to 2017, there have been repeated delays in the agency's SLS program. In 2018, NASA’s Inspector General Paul Martin laid most of the blame for the delays and cost overruns at Boeing's feet. However, NASA itself didn't escape criticism, though. The inspector general cited contract management practices by NASA as contributing to the SLS Program’s cost and schedule overruns.
But a rocket that was supposed to have its first flight by late 2017 at a cost of $5-7 billion has now ballooned to nearly double that amount.
More about NASA, space launch system, core stage, Pegasus barge, RS25 engines
 
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