Saturday, November 27, 2021

NASA has revealed the finishing of SLS moon rocket

Two of NASA’s flagship projects, representing more than $50 billion in US government investment over several decades, were exhibited to the media on Friday at spaceports in Florida and French Guiana.

Reporters and photographers were allowed access to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building on Friday to observe the first completely stacked Space Launch System rocket, a towering 322-foot-tall launcher planned to deliver human teams to the moon for the first time since 1972.

More than 2,400 miles to the southeast, media representatives visited the European-run Guiana Space Center on the northern coast of South America. Technicians at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana are preparing the James Webb Space Telescope for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket.

With its Orion crew capsule cargo, the Space Fly System is set to launch on an unpiloted test journey around the moon as soon as Feb. 12 from Florida’s Space Coast. The mission will be the first for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return men to the moon’s surface later this decade.

The SLS test flight is the culmination of a 10-year process that began in 2011 when Congress directed NASA to design and build a massive rocket utilizing technology left over from the agency’s defunct fleet of space shuttles. Lockheed Martin was given the contract to create the Orion spacecraft in 2006 as part of NASA’s Constellation moon program, which was terminated in 2010.

NASA kept the Orion program alive despite two significant restructurings of the agency’s deep space exploration efforts. The first occurred during the Obama administration when Congress and the White House agreed to shift NASA’s focus to a human mission to Mars, with an interim crewed expedition to an asteroid.

NASA’s exploration mission has been redirected to the moon by the Trump administration. NASA named the lunar mission Artemis after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.

The Orion program made it through it all. NASA’s inspector general stated earlier this year that the agency had spent $12.8 billion on the Orion spacecraft since 2012, with an extra $6.3 billion committed to the program through the Constellation program in the preceding decade.

The first Artemis mission is the second Orion capsule spaceflight and taking an Orion spacecraft to the moon. The Orion spacecraft’s maiden voyage supplies energy and propulsion for the capsule in deep space.

According to NASA’s inspector general, the SLS program has cost the government $18.8 billion since 2012. During the same period tablet, another $4.8 billion was spent preparing the ground infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center for SLS and Orion flights.

If the Artemis 1 test flight is successful, NASA plans to fly the Artemis 2 mission no later than late 2023. That mission, which would use the second SLS rocket, will transport three NASA astronauts and a Canadian astronaut around the far side of the moon and back to Earth, covering a greater distance from Earth than any person has ever traveled.

After more than 20 years of development, the James Webb Space Telescope is ready for launch from a site carved out of South America’s Amazon rainforest. In launch form, Webb is folded up to fit into the payload envelope of its Ariane 5 rocket. The observatory is approximately 34.4 feet tall and weighs over 14,000 pounds when fully fuelled for liftoff.

 

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