Largest rocket since Apollo rolls out
The first of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) deep space exploration rockets is on the move as it rolled out of the space agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on January 8, 2020. The Boeing-built SLS Core Stage was put on the Pegasus barge to make its voyage downriver to the Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for hot-fire tests before delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The SLS is the largest rockets to fly since the Moon landings and will even outclass the legendary Saturn V. And, like the Saturn V, its various components are being built at different locations, and the first stage of the SLS is being assembled at the same facility where the first stage of the Saturn V was put together.
According to Boeing, the SLS Core Stage was announced completed on December 9, 2019, and is slated to power NASA's unmanned Artemis 1 mission on its circumlunar flight. This is the first time a completed rocket has shipped from Michoud since Apollo and is now on its way to Stennis for live engine tests, inspection, and refurbishment before its final journey to Kennedy for stacking with the Interim Cryogenic Upper Stage (ICPS) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
"The Boeing SLS team has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with NASA and our supplier partners to face multiple challenges with ingenuity and perseverance while keeping safety and quality at the forefront," says John Shannon, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager. "We are applying what we’ve learned from development of the first core stage to accelerate work on core stages 2 and 3, already in production at Michoud, as well as the Exploration Upper Stage that will power NASA’s most ambitious Artemis missions."