May 23, 2022

Photos: Close-ups of NASA’s moon rocket on the launch pad

These images from pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center show NASA’s Space Launch System moon rocket awaiting a rollback to the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs.

The photos were taken Thursday, April 21, as technicians prepared the 322-foot-tall (98-meter) rocket for rollback to the VAB to replace a faulty helium check valve on the upper stage and troubleshoot a hydrogen leak on the tail service mast umbilical connecting the mobile launch platform to the core stage.

Rollback to the VAB is scheduled for Monday, completing the rocket’s first visit to pad 39B. NASA transferred the Space Launch System moon rocket to the pad for the first time March 17, and it arrived at the complex the next morning.

NASA is preparing the rocket for launch on the Artemis 1 mission, the first full-up test flight of the giant new rocket and the Orion crew capsule, designed to carry astronauts to the moon on future Artemis flights.

The top of the Space Launch System’s solid rocket boosters, positioned on each side of the core stage. The crew stage’s liquid oxygen feed line is also visible, routing super-cold oxidizer from the oxygen tank down to the RS-25 main engines. Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography
The launch vehicle stage adapter and interim cryogenic upper stage, along with the interim cryogenic propulsion stage umbilical, which supplies fuel, oxidizer, purge air, gaseous nitrogen and helium, and electrical connections to the upper stage. Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography
NASA’s Orion spacecraft, along with its European-built service module, sits on top of the Space Launch System moon rocket. The Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system is visible in the upper part of this image, along with the crew access arm and Orion service module umbilical. Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography
Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography
The Orion spacecraft, with the NASA and European Space Agency logos. Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography
Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography
The bottom of the Space Launch System on the rocket’s mobile launch platform. Ground technicians are visible working on the platform, along with the tail service mast umbilical to the left of the rocket, which routes super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the core stage. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now
The core stage forward skirt umbilical provides conditioned air and nitrogen gas to the SLS core stage forward skirt cavity. The vehicle stabilizer system is also visible in this image. It provides a structural interface to the SLS core stage and helps reduce core stage motion during rollout to the launch pad, processing operations, high wind events at the pad, and the launch countdown. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

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