Gallery: See NASA’s fully-stacked SLS solid rocket boosters
Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider: NASA reported in early March 2021 that the stacking is complete for the Space Launch System twin solid rocket boosters for the Artemis 1 mission.
The Northrop Grumman-built twin solid rocket boosters consist of ten segments and nosecone assemblies placed on a mobile launcher inside the Vehicle Assembly Building located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Engineers and technicians with Exploration Ground Systems began the stacking and assembling process on Nov. 21, 2020. This culminated with the addition of the nosecones March 2, 2021.
Meanwhile, the SLS core stage, built by Boeing, underwent a successful eight minute hot fire test on March 18, 2021. This was the final of eight tests that were part of the “Green Run” tests that were performed on the rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
This core stage houses the “brains” of the rocket along with liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks and four RS-25 engines. The hot fire test required all four engines fire at the same time, duplicating the launch sequence requirements for flight.
After engineers collect data from the eight minute test fire, the core stage will be refurbished and refreshed before being shipped to Kennedy Space Center by way of the Pegasus barge.
Once in Florida, the core will be transported by technicians to the Vehicle Assembly Building where it will be attached between the two solid rocket boosters.
The Space Launch System, when complete, will be the most powerful rocket in the world and be capable of producing up to 8.8 million pounds of thrust during the Artemis 1 launch, an uncrewed test flight of the Orion capsule and the SLS rocket. That flight is currently expected in late 2021 or early 2022.
This critical test mission is expected to pave the way for the first crewed Orion mission to the Moon as NASA aims to land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface later this decade for further space science and exploration.
Video courtesy of NASA