The core stage of NASA’s first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday evening aboard a specially-built barge, completing a voyage by sea from a test site in Mississippi to begin final preparations for the first flight of NASA’s Artemis Moon program. Ground crews plan to transport the core stage into the Vehicle Assembly Building beginning around 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT) Thursday to join its two solid rocket boosters.
Teams at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi removed the core of NASA’s first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket from a test stand earlier this week for loading onto a barge to carry it to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the rocket stage is due to arrive by the end of the month to start final preparations for a test flight around the Moon.
NASA’s acting administrator said Tuesday he does not expect Russian cosmonauts to start launching to the International Space Station on U.S. commercial crew vehicles until next year. A proposed agreement with Russia to ensure the space station is always staffed with an international crew is awaiting U.S. government approval.
The core piece of NASA’s first huge Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket designed to carry astronauts back to the moon fired its main engines more than eight minutes Thursday in southern Mississippi, acing a crucial test before the it ships to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for liftoff.
NASA officials said Thursday the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope will be delayed seven months to Oct. 31, 2021, a schedule slip that takes into account work slowdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the amount of testing required on the observatory before its shipment to French Guiana for liftoff on a European Ariane 5 rocket.
After a two-day readiness review, NASA managers gave a green light Friday for SpaceX to proceed with final preparations for launch next Wednesday, May 27, of a commercial spaceship carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station on the first orbital spaceflight from U.S. soil since 2011.
SpaceX’s proposal to land astronauts on the moon using the company’s reusable Starship vehicle could be “game-changing” for space exploration, but comes with risks and complexity that “threaten the schedule viability” to achieve NASA’s goal of returning crews moon by the end of 2024, agency officials said.