U.S. Space & Rocket Center Reopening to Public

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is reopening to museum members Friday and to the general public Saturday. The Rocket Center has been closed since March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

To maintain social distancing, visitors will enter at the Rocket Center’s Davidson Center for Space Exploration. The Davidson Center, Rocket Park and Shuttle Park will be open, but some exhibits and all simulators will remain closed.

The traveling exhibit, “Playing with Light,” in the original museum building will be open.

Enhanced cleaning measures are in place, and other safety measures include:

  • Timed tickets are required for admission.
  • One-directional paths are laid out through exhibits.
  • Plexiglass shields are in place at visitor service and ticketing desks.
  • Masks are strongly recommended for visitors and required for staff.

Reopening hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum will be closed Mondays for cleaning.

To purchase tickets, visit rocketcenter.com.

Dynetics to develop NASA’s Artemis Human Lunar Landing System

Huntsville-based Dynetics has been awarded a contract under NASA’s Artemis program to design a Human Landing System and compete to build a system to take the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024.

Dynetics is one of three prime contractors selected.

The Dynetics approach enables near-term reusability and sustainability and provides a commercially supported lander capability. The system’s crew module is designed to accommodate two crew members for missions from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back, including surface habitation for about a week. Alternatively, it can ferry up to four crew members to or from the lunar surface.

“There’s really no more exciting mission than delivering humans to other planetary bodies,” said Kim Doering, Dynetics vice president of Space Systems. “However, it’s also among the most challenging endeavors, particularly given the goal of landing on the moon in 2024. We believe Dynetics has the recipe for success.”

“As a new member of the Leidos family, Dynetics continues to lead the industry with talented innovators eager to solve today’s complex problems,” said Leidos Chairman and CEO Roger Krone. “NASA’s HLS is truly innovative and one that will revolutionize space travel. We are fully committed to this endeavor and proud to join the team returning Americans to the moon.”

The Dynetics-led team encompasses 17 states and one country. Major components and subsystems will be built, tested and integrated at the Dynetics facility in Decatur.

Dynetics is also delivering hardware to NASA’s Space Launch System Core Stage, Exploration Upper Stage, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and the International Space Station.

Speaking from Experience, Astronaut Hoot Gibson on Living Through Quarantines and Confined Spaces

Up until now, he was one of only a handful of people on Earth who knows what it feels like to go through self-quarantine, and live with other people in a small, confined space for more than five weeks.

Retired NASA astronaut and Navy pilot Robert “Hoot” Gibson was a bit puckish with his opening advice to the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce on a teleconference this week.

“Hoot” Gibson experienced quarantine and cramped quarters while flying on five space shuttle missions. (Photo courtesy UAH)

“Well, we had a big advantage once we got into orbit,” he said. “We were flying at zero gravity or weightlessness so when the floor got cluttered, we just floated to the upper deck. When your floor at home gets cluttered with too many people and their stuff, just fly over the top … okay, okay, that is not meant to be serious,” he said to laughter.

A resident of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and still a familiar face at Space Camp graduations, Gibson is no stranger to living in close quarters. He flew five space shuttle missions and spent 36 days with up to seven astronauts in the tight quarters of the shuttle.

Vice President of Communications for the Chamber Claire Aiello asked him about his experiences then and now as people find themselves confined to home for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We really did have an advantage in that a crew is formed months before launch and we trained together for a year, knew each other very well by the time we actually went into space, we knew exactly what we were going to face, and we had experience with the tight confines of the space shuttle,” he said.

“On three of my five missions, we had 8 feet by 15 feet on the upper deck, and on the lower deck, we had about 15 feet by 15 feet. Two of my missions, we did not have the Spacelab, which gave us double that much room, about 5,000 square feet, so comparatively speaking, we had a lot of room.

“But if I think back on it, the mission where I would say, ‘How in the world did we not strangle each other?’, that was my second mission. There were seven of us aboard and we only had the flight deck and the mid-deck, 2,500 square feet for all of us to live in.”

He said being in space was easier that preparing for it in the simulator because they couldn’t fly and couldn’t use the ceiling.

“Knowing and expecting that you’re going to be hampered in your mobility around people is probably one of the biggest parts of it,” Gibson said. “You realize and understand you’re going to be all over each other, so I guess training and experience are things that always carry the day.”

He said containing the coronavirus has been a challenge for most because few people have ever been quarantined at all and in the case of COVID-19, there was little time to prepare before they were asked to self-quarantine with no previous knowledge or experience doing it.

“Again, as a crew we had the advantage of going into quarantine seven days before we launched,” Gibson said. “That kept us away from anyone who could give us the flu or any kind of disease. And anyone who came within 15 feet of one us, would have had to have passed a physical by one of our NASA flight surgeons.”

He said he never flew a mission where anyone had a cold or flu outbreak, or any illness at all.

“And then there is your own personal attitude toward it,” said Gibson. “We never had a crew member who was grumpy or difficult to work with, or who said, ‘I need all these people out of my hair’, you know. We never heard anything like that, so I think attitude is probably the biggest part.”

He said a thankful attitude helps too, in which they are going into quarantine because that’s what it will take to protect them and the people with whom they come into contact.

“We have all been self-quarantining everywhere, trying to stay six feet apart and I think it has for the most part worked,” Gibson said.

The lessons of aerospace he said are training, simulation, preparation, having a plan, and executing the plan.

“We had a saying in flight-testing: plan the flight and fly the plan and don’t deviate,” Gibson said. “I say the more rigorous we are, the more adherence to the plan we can do, and the better off we are going to be. It has paid off (so far) and it works.

Gibson in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Discovery. (NASA Photo)

“Things that work are good. That is the attitude to take toward it.”

Gibson said his family and neighbors have obeyed the stay at home orders, but they are getting a little more ambitious. A doctor in the neighborhood suggested bringing their own folding chairs and having 5 o’clock Happy Hour – six feet apart. Gibson has even hosted one himself.

“Cautious optimism is where I’m headed in the days ahead,” he said. “But another thing we have been sure to do is order food from local restaurants to help keep them in business. Panera Bread delivers and there are others where you drive there and pick it up.

“One restaurant we go to said to us, ‘Thank goodness for the people in Murfreesboro!’ He initially laid-off all of his employees, but because of the support he is getting from people here in town, he’s hired back five of them, so I think we can all help.”

Responding to a question about 5:00 Happy Hour in the cul-de-sac compared to 5:00 in the cockpit of a spacecraft, Gibson quips, “We weren’t supposed to have cocktails in orbit and of course I never did – unless you count that thing with the Russians … but that’s a whole other story!”

Speaking of Russians … he was asked whether it was true that he helped end the Cold War.

“When we docked with the Russian Space station Mir, it was 1995 and only the second international docking, 20 years after the Apollo Soyuz docking in 1975,” said Gibson. “When we arrived, the protocol was that I would shake hands with the Mir commander. I was the Space Shuttle commander, and so the plan was the two of us would shake hands in the hatch,

“I opened the hatch and shook hands with Russian Air Force Col. Vladimir Dezhurov. He had been a Russian fighter pilot training to shoot down and kill me all those years I was trained to shoot down and kill him. That day, President Bill Clinton made the comment, ‘Well I guess this means the Cold War is over.’

“I tell everyone I ended the Cold War – it’s a little bit of a joke!”

Chamber President Chip Cherry asked about a picture on Gibson’s desk of an F-4 Phantom II fighter jet.

“What was your favorite plane to fly?” asked Cherry.

Gibson gives a ‘thumbs up’ in the Tomcat. (NASA Photo)

“Initially, I flew the F-4 in Vietnam, and flew two cruises over the Coral Sea in it. After the Phantom, I flew the first F-14 Tomcat and of course that’s the airplane that was in the movie ‘Top Gun,’” Gibson said. “It could do everything the Phantom could do and, at the time, the Phantom was the world’s best all-around fighter plane.

“When the Tomcat came out, it could do everything the Phantom could do 15 to 20 percent better, so it was a superior airplane and it should have been. It had 15 years of evolution over the Phantom.

“Both were a lot of fun. Flying jet fighters was really something!”

No one on the call could resist asking – where did he get his call sign “Hoot” Gibson?

“I joined a squadron aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea in 1972,” he said. “I was a new guy and the operations officer looked at me and said, “Hey kid. You got a nickname?’

“My real name is Robert, so I said, ‘Yes sir, it’s Bob.’

“He said, ‘No, no, no, come on. You need a real nickname.’

“I said, ‘Well, occasionally I’ve been called Hoot after the rodeo champion and silent movie star cowboy.’

Gibson in his NASA T-38 aircraft. (UAH Photo)

“From that moment on, April 1972, I’ve been ‘Hoot’ Gibson. It went on the canopy of my airplane, on my coffee cup, and Hoot Gibson was sewn onto my flight suit.”

On April 17, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka returned to Earth after nearly a year on the International Space Station. They returned to an Earth where people are wearing masks and where they have been living in a sort of quarantine.

What does Hoot Gibson think it is like for them?

“I’m sure Mission Control has told them all about what’s going on, and what life is like back here on Earth,” Gibson said. “I suspect they’re going to be a bit dismayed because they’re not going to be quite prepared for what they’re going to see because it’s far more dramatic than it comes across to you by someone explaining it to you.

“When you come back from space, it’s always such a joyous celebration with everybody enthusiastically hugging everybody and shaking hands. They’re not going to get any of that, so it’s going to be a little bit of a letdown I’m sure after the experience of flying in space, which is pretty spectacular.”

Blue Origin Launches Engine Building Plant

Blue Origin, a rocket engine company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, went from ground-breaking to ribbon-cutting in a year to open the company’s facility in Cummings Research Park.

Blue Origin held a press conference Monday with a stage full of dignitaries to laud the moment. Among those attending were Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, U.S. Reps. Robert Aderholt and Mo Brooks, and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

Bezos did not attend the event at the $200 million, 350,000 square-foot plant, which will make the company’s reusable BE-4 and BE-3U engines that will aid space travel from human exploration to national security.

“At the core of every successful launch vehicle program are the engines that power those vehicles to space,’’ Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said. “Early on in Blue Origin’s history, we made a crucial decision to invest in developing the next generation of reusable rocket engines.

“And now, it’s an exciting time for Blue, our partners and this country – we are on the path to deliver on our promise to end the reliance on Russian-made engines – and it’s all happening right here, right now, in the great state of Alabama. We couldn’t be prouder to call this our home for engine production.”

Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Kent, Wash., said the plant will add more than 300 jobs to the local economy.

While Blue Origin plans to build cutting-edge reusable rockets, the firm turned to the past to help launch its mission. It spent $50 million to renovate Marshall Space Flight Center’s test stand 4670, which was used to test the Saturn rocket that would take men to the moon in 1969.

 

BAE Systems to Purchase Collins Aerospace’s Military GPS, Raytheon’s Radio Businesses

BAE Systems said it intends to buy Collins Aerospace’s military Global Positioning System business  and Raytheon’s Airborne Tactical Radios business for a combined $2.2 billion.

The two high-performing businesses are being sold in connection with obtaining the required antitrust clearances for the previously announced pending merger between Raytheon and United Technologies Corp, BAE Systems said in a news release.

According to BAE, the asset purchase agreement for the Collins military GPS business calls for cash of $1.925 billion, with an expected tax benefit of approximately $365 million. For Raytheon’s ATR business, the purchase agreement calls for cash of $275 million, with an expected tax benefit of approximately $50 million.

“As militaries around the world increasingly operate in contested environments, the industry-leading, battle-tested products of these two businesses will complement and extend our existing portfolio of solutions we offer our customers,” said Jerry DeMuro, CEO of BAE Systems. “This unique opportunity to acquire critical radio and GPS capabilities strengthens our position as a leading provider of defense electronics and communications systems, and further supports our alignment with the modernization priorities of the U.S. military and its partners.”

These proposed acquisitions are subject to the successful closure of the Raytheon-UTC transaction and other customary closing conditions. Upon closure, both business lines would be integrated into the company’s Electronic Systems sector.

BAE Systems, Collins Aerospace and Raytheon have facilities in Huntsville.

“These are strong businesses with talented employees who share our focus on quality and technology innovation,” said Tom Arseneault, President and COO of BAE Systems. “We are confident of a smooth transition that will accelerate our future together and look forward to welcoming these new employees to the BAE Systems team once the transactions are approved.”

Kutta and Sierra Nevada Creating ‘Melting Technology Pot and Integration Model’

With the opening of its new facility, Kutta Technologies plans to implement what they and the Sierra Nevada Corp. call their first integration model here in Huntsville.

When Sierra Nevada acquired Kutta Technologies in 2015, Kutta was a small avionics consulting company that develops controller software for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the United States military.

As that demand grew, Sierra Nevada saw an opportunity to expand that expertise into its Integrated Missions Systems business in Huntsville. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada, Kutta has 65 employees and is growing.

Tim Owings, executive vice president of Integrated Missions Systems for Sierra Nevada. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

The new location at 4000 Market Street in the new Redstone Gateway, just steps outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 9, will help Kutta increase its presence and footprint on Redstone Arsenal.

“Sierra Nevada is a very innovative company with four business groups,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of Integrated Missions Systems for Sierra Nevada. “Our space team is involved in the development of the Dreamchaser, so we are building our own spacecraft. In aviation we have our own surveillance aircraft; we have people here involved in electronic warfare; and we have people working in cyber.

“All those intersect here in Huntsville … a sort of melting technology pot and integration model for Sierra Nevada that we are all really excited about.”

For the past eight years, Kutta has shared space on Discovery Drive with Sierra Nevada. Owings said they have built great new friendships and great working relationships during that time.

“Kutta is on a roll right now and we owe that to Tim Owings and Sierra Nevada, who have made it possible,” said Matt Savoca, executive vice president of Kutta and one of the company’s founders. “UAS is one of our biggest customers and they along with our vendors are on Redstone Arsenal. Our software controls all of the small and large unmanned vehicles at Redstone and it has been a passion of ours to expand our unmanned aerial systems capabilities in Huntsville.

“We are excited and proud to be part of the Huntsville community.”

According to Owings, some more big announcements concerning Kutta and SNC are upcoming.

“Kutta is on a roll right now and we owe that to Tim Owing and Sierra Nevada” – Matt Savoca, executive vice president of Kutta. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

“The next part of all this is – you have to win some work! Sometimes timing is everything, and last week we saw an announcement about two major programs we have been selected to win,” he said.

“One is a very large program hatched out of the United Kingdom that we will be doing work for out of this office; but more important locally is the EMARSS-E contract with L3 Technologies.”

The Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS-E) contract is an aircraft integration contract to develop up to two EMARSS prototype aircraft. Owings said the initial contract award is around $30 million.

“If we are going to build airplanes in our Huntsville hangar in Meridianville, we are also going to support them engineering-wise,” Owings said. “The program office for that will be run from Huntsville so that’s a big deal towards what we are trying to achieve here. However, there is a lot of aircraft follow-on from that contract that has the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars over time as we provide more of these platforms.”

Today, the Huntsville office is hosting Sierra Nevada’s quarterly technology meeting and, according to Owings, the entire senior leadership from SNC will be at the new Kutta office.

Savoca and Owings also gave a shout-out to the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce who presented them with a new membership plaque.

“The Chamber always does a fabulous job with these things and is supportive of everything we’ve done,” said Savoca. “The entire city and its culture have really embraced what we want to do, so ‘Thank You’.”

Huntsville Doubles Down on Leadership Role in Space at International Conference

Marcia Lindstrom and Deborah Barnhart at the Huntsville booth. Lindstrom is strategic
communications officer for NASA’s Space Launch System at Marshall Space Flight Center, and Barnhart
is the CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

WASHINGTON — Huntsville is living up to its moniker as the Rocket City at the 70th annual International Astronautical Congress this week in Washington, D.C.

Huntsville is the only community to participate among 170-plus corporate, state and national exhibitors. Last year’s IAC in Bremen, Germany saw a record 6,500 participants from 83 countries convene to collaborate on space research, development and utilization.

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is coordinating the Rocket City’s presence, which consists of Draper, RadioBro, RUAG Space USA, the North Alabama International Trade Association, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Our booth is strategically located across from NASA and adjacent to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Dynetics and ULA, all prominent commercial players in the nation’s aerospace ecosystem, and all with a presence in Huntsville.

This week, visitors to the Rocket City booth have included:

  • Jody Singer, Paul McConnaughey & Bobby Watkins, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Tory Bruno, United Launch Alliance
  • Deborah Barnhart, U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Steve Cook and Kim Doering, Dynetics
  • Randy Lycans, Jacobs Space Exploration Group
  • John Schumacher, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Neeraj Gupta, Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Sam Gunderson and Jacki Cortese, Blue Origin

“It makes sense that we’re the only community exhibiting at IAC because we have so much to offer across the civil, commercial and defense space industries,” said Lucia Cape, senior vice president of economic development for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber. “With Marshall Space Flight Center, the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and 400 aerospace and defense companies in the Huntsville metro, we are connected to nearly every U.S. space initiative in some way.”

Seamus Tuohy and Pete Paceley of Draper at The Rocket City booth. Draper, Lockheed
Martin and Northrop Grumman will join Blue Origin’s bid to build a lunar lander.

The City of Huntsville also has a presence at IAC to share some of the advantages our city offers to companies interested in locating here.

“Space is one of the main drivers of our economy. We’ve proven ourselves as a community time and time again whether it’s developing the rocket that put humans on the moon 50 years ago to the development of the rocket that will take us back and eventually to Mars,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.  “We’ve also carved out an important leadership role in space for national security with the Army Space and Missile Defense Command headquarters here as well as the bulk of the Missile Defense Agency.

“Huntsville attending the IAC is a great place for us to continue building on our community’s expertise and recruiting more jobs and workers.”

This year, the IAC celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, and the Chamber’s booth highlights the Apollo milestone, a fitting tribute to the Huntsville-based rocket programs that put man on the Moon and will return astronauts there in 2024.

Hypergiant, Dynetics Partner to Deliver Solutions for Space Ops Run on Amazon Web Services

Hypergiant, an AI products and solutions company, and Huntsville-based Dynetics, a high-technology solutions company, are partnering to deliver space mission solutions for customers using Amazon Web Services.

As Amazon Partner Network members, the Hypergiant and Dynetics teams are leveraging the AWS cloud in artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, Internet of Things, and AWS Ground Station to deliver mission and payload on-demand services. These services will support space ecosystem customers and also open up opportunities in the burgeoning space economy.

The companies plan to develop services supporting Hypergiant’s planned missions utilizing their Slingshot deployment system and NASA’s International Space Station infrastructure.

“Now that space-mission hardware costs are being reduced, our ability to get more data, more often, is rapidly increasing,” said Ben Lamm, founder and CEO of Texas-based Hypergiant. “People need a way to get that data more efficiently and to interpret it more effectively.

“That’s why we entered into this partnership with Dynetics: smarter, more cost-effective solutions for space data to all companies,”

Dynetics brings more than a decade of human spaceflight as well as satellite development, deployment, and deployment experience to the partnership. The aerospace and defense company also benefit from 45 years of experience in systems engineering, analytics, and hardware and software development.

“Demand for these solutions continues to increase from civil space, defense, and national intelligence agencies,” said Jonathan Pettus, Dynetics vice president of Strategic Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence and Information Technology. “Our rich experience with US DoD, NASA, and various commercial aerospace companies provides a unique value proposition with Hypergiant while also utilizing AWS to deliver flexible, cost-effective, and secure solutions in-line with the customers’ needs.”

According to the press release, the partnership can allow cost-savings to organizations that have requirements to operate in space and avoid using their own capital in mission and payload operations services. Companies will be able to focus on the core business purposes of their mission.

NASA Extends Boeing’s Contract to Build More Moon Rockets

 

NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stages to support as many as 10 Artemis missions, including the mission that will carry the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.

The agency intends to work with Boeing, the current lead contractor for the core stages of the rockets that will fly on the first two Artemis missions, for the production of SLS rockets through the next decade. The core stage is the center part of the rocket that contains the two giant liquid fuel tanks.

Illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 configuration, which will carry an Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon, on the mobile launcher. SLS is the only rocket that can send the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.

Towering 212 feet with a diameter of 27.6 feet, it will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and all the systems that will feed the stage’s four RS-25 engines. It also houses the flight computers and much of the avionics needed to control the rocket’s flight.

The Space Launch System is the backbone of NASA’s deep space human exploration and is the only rocket capable of sending crew, the Orion capsule and heavy cargo to the Moon on a single mission.

“It is urgent that we meet the president’s goal to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, and SLS is the only rocket that can help us meet that challenge,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “These initial steps allow NASA to start building the core stage that will launch the next astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface and build the powerful exploration upper stage that will expand the possibilities for Artemis missions by sending hardware and cargo along with humans or even heavier cargo needed to explore the Moon or Mars.”

NASA works with Boeing, the current lead contractor for the core stages of the rockets that will fly on the first two Artemis missions. Boeing is completing the first SLS core stage with the second well underway. The order leverages labor, materials, and supply chain efficiencies for production savings.

The SLS is managed at the Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, manufactured at the Michoud Assembly Facility outside of New Orleans and will launch from Cape Canaveral.

NASA has provided initial funding and authorization to Boeing to begin work toward the production of the third core stage and to order targeted long-lead materials and cost-efficient bulk purchases to support future builds of core stages.

“We greatly appreciate the confidence NASA has placed in Boeing to deliver this deep space rocket and their endorsement of our team’s approach to meeting this unprecedented technological and manufacturing challenge in support of NASA’s Artemis program,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch division. “Together with a nationwide network of engaged and innovative suppliers we will deliver the first core stage to NASA this year for Artemis I.

“This team is already implementing lessons learned and innovative practices from the first build to produce a second core stage more efficiently than the first.  We are is committed to continuous improvement as they execute on this new contract.”

The contract allows Boeing to order materials that will be used to produce additional SLS rockets through the next decade: 10 SLS core stages and eight Exploration Upper Stages to support Artemis III through Artemis XII. The full contract is expected to support up to 10 core stages and up to eight Exploration Upper Stages (EUS).

“NASA is committed to establishing a sustainable presence at the Moon, and this action enables NASA to continue Space Launch System core stage production in support of that effort to help bring back new knowledge and prepare for sending astronauts to Mars,” said John Honeycutt, SLS Program Manager at Marshall. “SLS is the only rocket powerful enough to send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission, and no other rocket in production today can send as much cargo to deep space as the Space Launch System rocket.

For the first three Artemis missions, the SLS rocket uses an interim cryogenic propulsion stage to send the Orion spacecraft to the Moon. The SLS rocket is designed to meet a variety of mission needs by evolving to carry greater mass and volume with a more powerful EUS.

The EUS is an important part of Artemis infrastructure needed to send astronauts and large cargo together, or larger cargo-only shipments, to the Moon, Mars and deep space. NASA aims to use the first EUS on the Artemis IV mission, and additional core stages and upper stages will support either crewed Artemis missions, science missions or cargo missions.

“The exploration upper stage will truly open up the universe by providing even more lift capability to deep space,” said Julie Bassler, the SLS Stages manager at Marshall. “The exploration upper stage will provide the power to send more than 45 metric tons, or 99 thousand pounds, to lunar orbit.”

 

All Major Sections of SLS Rocket Assembled

The last of five major sections for the Boeing-built Space Launch System rocket are now connected.

Engineers at the 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 liquid hydrogen propellant tank last week.

The engine section is located at the bottom of the core stage and is one of the most complicated pieces of hardware for the SLS rocket.

The engine section will hold four RS-25 rocket motors and two solid rocket boosters that produce a combined 8.8 million pounds of thrust to send Artemis I to space.

In addition, the engine section includes vital systems for mounting, controlling and delivering fuel from the stage’s two liquid propellant tanks to the rocket’s engines.

This fall, NASA will work with core stage lead contractor, Boeing, to attach the four RS-25 engines and connect them to the main propulsion systems inside the engine section.

The SLS — managed out of the Marshal Space Flight Center  — will launch the first woman and next man to the moon from Cape Canaveral, ahead of NASA missions to Mars.

The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built and the only one capable of sending astronauts, the Orion capsule, and heavy cargo to the moon in a single mission.