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NASA unveils SLS Artemis


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https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/artemis-day-marks-sls-core-stage-milestone.html

NASA, Public Mark Assembly of SLS Stage with Artemis Day

On Monday, Dec. 9, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine showed off the Space Launch System liquid-fueled rocket stage that will send the first Artemis mission to space. The core stage, built at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, is the largest NASA has produced since the Apollo Program.

 

NASA and the Michoud team will shortly send the first fully assembled, 212-foot-tall core stage to the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi aboard the Pegasus barge for final tests.

 

Surrounded by key NASA personnel and officials from Congress, as well as state and regional government, Bridenstine said the milestone marked a new chapter in the Artemis story as the agency works to answer the charge from to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. 

 

"The completion of the SLS core stage is a major milestone and a testament to American enterprise and ingenuity," said Bridenstine. "With more than 1,100 large and small businesses in 44 states contributing to the design and assembly, the SLS rocket will empower America to achieve the Artemis program’s goal of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024."

 

Artemis I will launch the SLS rocket and an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the Moon to test the systems of both the rocket and the spacecraft. The core stage Green Run tests will pave the way for successful Moon missions, and it is the final test series ahead of the Artemis I launch. The series will mark the first full test of the entire SLS core stage, including the stage’s extensive propulsion, avionics and flight software systems.

 

With a design featuring some of the most sophisticated hardware ever built for spaceflight, the core stage is the powerhouse of the SLS rocket. The five major structures — the forward skirt, liquid oxygen tank, intertank, liquid hydrogen tank and engine section — that make up the stage are manufactured and assembled at Michoud. The 43-acre facility includes state-of-the-art welding and manufacturing tools to produce the huge, 27.6-feet-in-diameter tanks and barrels.

 

Earlier this year, NASA revised its assembly plan to connect the stage horizontally rather than vertically,” said John Honeycutt, the SLS Program Manager. “By doing so, NASA advanced its timeline so that our teams could meet our goal to complete assembly on the core stage by the end of the year. It was great to have for employees, stakeholders and the public to join us in the factory to mark the occasion.

 

Assembly and integration of the massive stage and its four RS-25 engines have been a collaborative, multistep process for NASA and its partners Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-25 engines lead contractor.

 

Artemis Day welcomed media and social media influencers for a rare glimpse inside the Michoud factory where they saw not only the integrated core stage but also large structures that will be connected to form the core stage for Artemis II, the first mission to send astronauts to lunar orbit, as well as components for Artemis III, the mission that will put humans back on the lunar surface. Attendees participated in a full day of events and activities, including extended tours of the facility and two discussion panels with engineers and technicians building the hardware for NASA’s next generation Moon missions.

"Michoud is proud of its nearly 60 year history in manufacturing and assembling large vehicles and components for our nation's space program," said Robert Champion, director of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility.

 

Events will continue through Tuesday, Dec. 10, when attendees will tour nearby Stennis, where the core stage will undergo Green Run testing in the new year.

SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission. SLS, Orion, and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration and the Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.

For more on NASA’s SLS, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/sls

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Interesting article. A lot of the issues touched on are probably pretty applicable to any sort of industry, but it's kind of crazy how much of our wealth we are just tossing out for the benefit of a few just to keep an idea that we all like alive.

Any time a space program is cancelled people are sad, but this kind of gives some context of why maybe it is a necessary thing, and almost makes you like the person who cancelled it. Almost. But space is awesome and cancelling it is dumb. 

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On 2/26/2021 at 1:57 AM, Sam Lin said:

Scathing blog entry detailing why SLS should be canceled (author works for JPL and has a lot of articles talking about various aspects of space development):

https://caseyhandmer.wordpress.com/2021/02/24/sls-is-cancellation-too-good/

massive comedy value here, but it basically shits on ramjet's entire career, so @RamjetFDO please take a few minutes to write a rebuttal and if you wish i defer to your first right of refusal to x-post to the DT thread.  but this needs to be disseminated to the wider audience.   new glenn and the starship are both within 18-24 months of commercial readiness, and will serve us better than SLS.

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1 hour ago, Hagbard Celine said:

massive comedy value here, but it basically shits on ramjet's entire career, so @RamjetFDO please take a few minutes to write a rebuttal and if you wish i defer to your first right of refusal to x-post to the DT thread.  but this needs to be disseminated to the wider audience.   new glenn and the starship are both within 18-24 months of commercial readiness, and will serve us better than SLS.

Rebuttal?  Meh.

He makes valid points about the entirety of the SLS program, but he's definitely a SpaceX fanboi, so take his rantings lightly, but yes - SLS is overpriced and will only be useful for MASSIVE one-launch-required systems.  Honestly - I don't think the Return-to-the-Moon program requires that.  Multi-launch and assembly in Earth orbit is a valid alternative.  While it looks Really Cool™, it won't hurt my feelings if something else were proposed and ready in SLS's place.

Also, his is a typical "IKNOWEVERYTHING" anti-Shuttle rant which I dismiss completely out of hand.  It takes the original PR promises of a program that was both modified (thanks DoD) and underfunded (thanks Congress/Administrations) but tries to hold to those original promises.  It's typical anti-Shuttle BS.  I won't waste my time trying to counter that.  He's a sharp guy - no argument from me there - but he's also young and did not live the program, so the incredibly negative 20/20 hindsight is more trendy anti-ism than it is valid criticism.

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1 hour ago, RamjetFDO said:

Rebuttal?  Meh.

He makes valid points about the entirety of the SLS program, but he's definitely a SpaceX fanboi, so take his rantings lightly, but yes - SLS is overpriced and will only be useful for MASSIVE one-launch-required systems.  Honestly - I don't think the Return-to-the-Moon program requires that.  Multi-launch and assembly in Earth orbit is a valid alternative.  While it looks Really Cool™, it won't hurt my feelings if something else were proposed and ready in SLS's place.

Also, his is a typical "IKNOWEVERYTHING" anti-Shuttle rant which I dismiss completely out of hand.  It takes the original PR promises of a program that was both modified (thanks DoD) and underfunded (thanks Congress/Administrations) but tries to hold to those original promises.  It's typical anti-Shuttle BS.  I won't waste my time trying to counter that.  He's a sharp guy - no argument from me there - but he's also young and did not live the program, so the incredibly negative 20/20 hindsight is more trendy anti-ism than it is valid criticism.

@RamjetFDO

i am an orphan of apollo and a spaceX fanboi, i don't think the 2 are mutually exclusive.  i agree he didn't live through the 70s and 80s but his grasp of the captured grift is tungsten-sharp.

i believe there should be a national conversation about nasa's spend.   the lunar gateway is a makework rube goldberg machine without lunar in-situ propellant manufacture (i.e. methane (musk)).  it only exists to give graft to boeing, lockheed et.al.  the lunar gateway was created to give SLS something to do, very poorly, very expensively.

i do not dismiss his "iknoweverything" out of hand because pretty much 99% of what he says is true, and he gets massive bonus points for delivering a scathing big-lie-exploding attack with massive comedy value.

i am not the one to write the rebuttal preface to posting his article in DT, but if I were i would lead with your key point, in 1972 there was no way to know the guys who ran the X-15 program were wrong about re-usable space planes, and although everything he said in the article turned out to be true, after the fact, about 50% of it was unknowable in 1972.  and everyone who gave their lives/careers to the shuttle were not laboring in a captured environment like everyone today who is associated with or grifting from SLS.

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Can't argue with much of what you said.

However - the snarky attitude of Mr. Handmer's 20/20 hindsight coupled with "God they were stupid" is where I dismiss his Shuttle retrospective out of hand.  You're right (and just restated what I said) that the 1970s-era predictions of Shuttle Program capabilities are not a fair measuring stick for the success of the program, the capability and knowledge advancement we achieved, and the overall improvement in human spaceflight as a result.  I'm still exceedingly proud of the program and of the vehicle.  Nothing like it has been done successfully before or since (and yes, I'm well aware of Buran - theft, not success).

And yes - was not arguing with the "grift" of SLS.  However - until there is a commercial payback, you're not going to get a real SpaceX presence in lunar flight/exploration just for the advancement of exploration (beyond the "Big Splash™" public relations events).  Elon, regardless of popular worship, is not a kind-and-generous soul devoting his life's billions to the betterment of humankind.  He's getting big fat healthy (and deserved now) paychecks.  If he keeps getting those, he'll keep pushing forward.  That may now very well be the best, most efficient, and fastest way forward - as opposed to the Old School view of having NASA manage everything related to spaceflight.

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poking the bear.... :)

from the comments on a buran youtube video:

1. It didn't carry tons of dead weight in the form of useless main stage engines on orbit 2. The tiles actually stayed on the orbiter from day one 3. The RD 120 hydrogen engines were cheaper, simpler, and were nearly equivalent in thrust to an SSME, and they did not need the complicated Helmholtz resonators 4. It ran 4 boosters instead of two, and unlike the shuttle solids, these could be throttled and restarted, as they were liquid 5. The boosters had RD 170's, the most powerful operational liquid engines ever flown 6. It used much safer Syntin/oxygen combination for the thrusters/OMS engines, as opposed to N2O4/Monomethylhydrazine 7. No main engines on the orbiter=Bigger payload 8. Turbofan engines to allow more post reentry landing options 9. It was overseen by Glushko, the most talented engine designer of the era 10. It didn't need a pilot 11. Most importantly, the Soviets were smart enough to know it was cheaper to make all engines disposable, as opposed to the American approach, where "reusability" was more expensive than expendable

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