NASA moved the giant core stage of the SLS moon rocket into the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to prepare it for a launch later this year.
Teams of workers rolled the 212-foot-tall rocket off of NASA's Pegasus barge on Thursday morning. The barge had shipped the rocket from the space agency's Stennis Space Center testing stand in southern Mississippi.
We. Are. Going. 🚀🌙— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) April 29, 2021
Watch as the @NASA_SLS core stage moves to the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. Once inside, the massive rocket stage will be integrated with @NASA_Orion and additional flight hardware ahead of the #Artemis I launch: https://t.co/O9gEpcM4gp pic.twitter.com/ZNN2nXg1QX
"Now it's our turn to handle the vehicle," said John Cippoletti, site manager and a lead engineer for Boeing, which built the core stage, in a NASA video clip released on Thursday. "To see it come here and actually launch, it's just really exciting."
The core stage is the final piece of hardware for the planned Artemis I mission to arrive at the spaceport. It will now be joined to two solid rocket boosters and the Orion space capsule.
SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world, producing up to 8.8 million pounds of thrust, according to NASA.
That compares to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which emits 7.6 million pounds of thrust at launch.
Artemis I will be an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket. Astronauts would then fly on Artemis II in 2023 for a trip around the moon without landing.
A planned moon landing in 2024 may be delayed because NASA hasn't received full funding for its human lunar lander.
NASA's goal for Artemis missions is to "land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon to establish sustainable lunar presence and prepare for human missions to Mars," according to the Artemis program description.
NASA successfully test-fired the SLS core stage on March 18 at Stennis for 8 minutes, simulating a launch for a lunar mission.
After the test, members of Congress hailed it as significant progress toward a return to the moon, last visited by humans in 1972.
Michael Collins' humility is captured in the Apollo 11 mission patch. He designed it to represent the thousands who worked toward a lunar landing, not just the astronauts, and it remains one of the only NASA mission patches without the names of the crew. pic.twitter.com/PhcE6MCD4U— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) April 28, 2021
The test brought NASA "one critical step closer to returning to the Moon and, someday, landing humans on Mars," said U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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