After considering canceling a planned full-duration test-firing of the Space Launch System’s core stage in Mississippi ahead of the heavy-lift rocket’s first flight, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced this week that the agency will press ahead with the test next year, citing safety and reliability benefits for future astronauts riding on the launcher on missions to the moon.
Teams working at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week connected a U.S.-built Orion crew module with its European-made power and propulsion element for the first time, a significant accomplishment ahead of the spacecraft’s shipment to Ohio this fall for testing inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber.
Fifty years to the day after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, a NASA astronaut, an Italian flight engineer and a Russian commander blasted off from Kazakhstan Saturday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, chased down the International Space Station and glided in for a picture-perfect docking.
The pressurized crew module and European-built service module for NASA’s first Orion spacecraft to travel to the moon will be joined together for the first time in the coming weeks at the Kennedy Space Center, with preparations — at least for Orion — on a pace to be ready for launch on an unpiloted test flight next year.
A towering mobile platform for the agency’s Space Launch System arrived at launch pad 39B Friday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a sequence of water and propellant flow tests, swing arm checkouts and other rehearsals that should conclude with managers declaring the spaceport’s ground systems ready to support the first SLS launch campaign by the end of the year.