“Most powerful rocket ever built” comes from its hanger and is loaded on a BARGE

“Most powerful rocket ever built” comes from its hanger and is loaded onto a BARGE for transport to Mississippi in preparation for NASA’s 2024 Moon mission

  • NASA’s Space Launch System was built in a facility in New Orleans
  • The rocket core is loaded on NASA’s 310-foot-long Pegasus barge
  • It is transferred to the Stennis Space Center for extensive testing
  • Once they are ready, the core sails to Cape Canaveral for preparations for the launch

The most powerful rocket ever built has emerged from its hanger and loaded onto a pontoon for transport from Louisiana to Mississippi for testing purposes.

The nuclear missile of the so-called ‘Space Launch System’ (SLS) was built in the Michoud Assembly Facility of NASA in New Orleans.

It will be shipped in the 310-foot (94-meter) long container boat – called the “Pegasus” – up the Peal River to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Here it will undergo a so-called ‘Green Run Test’ – where the engines are fired – after which the core is transferred to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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The most powerful rocket ever built emerged from its hanger and was loaded on a ship (left) for transport from Louisiana to Mississippi for testing purposes

The most powerful rocket ever built emerged from its hanger and was loaded on a ship (left) for transport from Louisiana to Mississippi for testing purposes

It will be shipped in the 310-foot (94-meter) container boat - called the 'Pegasus', pictured - up the Peal River to NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

It will be shipped in the 310-foot (94-meter) container boat - called the 'Pegasus', pictured - up the Peal River to NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

It will be shipped in the 310-foot (94-meter) container boat – called the ‘Pegasus’, pictured – up the Peal River to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

SPACE LAUNCHING SYSTEM CORE STATES

Length: 212 feet

Diameter: 27.6 feet

Empty weight: £ 188,000

Material: Aluminum 2219

engines: 4xRS-24

Maximum speed: Mach 23

Capacity: 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory in Louisiana to the Pegasus dock on January 8.

The SLS will make the same voyage along the Louisiana and Mississippi waterways as the Saturn V rocket when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Pegasus barge – which had previously been used to ferry tanks for the space shuttle – was made stronger and longer to accommodate the huge SLS hardware.

“This is a historic moment for NASA’s Artemis program and a proud time for the Space Launch System Core Stage team when the first flight item leaves the factory floor,” says NASA SLS Internship manager Julie Bassler.

“The roll-out from the core phase to Stennis before the core phase Green Run test series indicates an exciting next phase while NASA is preparing for the first Artemis launch.”

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines, which undergo an eight-minute test fire.

The so-called 'Space Launch System' (SLS) nuclear missile was built in the Michoud Assembly Facility of NASA in New Orleans

The so-called 'Space Launch System' (SLS) nuclear missile was built in the Michoud Assembly Facility of NASA in New Orleans

The so-called ‘Space Launch System’ (SLS) nuclear missile was built in the Michoud Assembly Facility of NASA in New Orleans

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus dock on January 8

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus dock on January 8

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus dock on January 8

The SLS will make the same voyage along the Louisiana and Mississippi waterways as the Saturn V rocket when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the 60s-70s

The SLS will make the same voyage along the Louisiana and Mississippi waterways as the Saturn V rocket when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the 60s-70s

The SLS will make the same voyage along the Louisiana and Mississippi waterways as the Saturn V rocket when it was sent for testing as part of the Apollo program of the 60s-70s

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus dock on January 8

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus dock on January 8

Accompanied by a parade of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel, the SLS core made the 1.3-mile journey from the Michoud factory to the Pegasus dock on January 8

WHAT IS NASA’S SPACE SYSTEM?

Nasa’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that, according to the space agency, “will lay the foundation for human exploration outside of Earth’s orbit.”

SLS launches with unprecedented thrust and will transport crews of up to four astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on missions to explore distant destinations.

SLS offers more loading mass, volume possibilities and energy to speed up missions through the space than any current launch vehicle. SLS has been designed to evolve over several decades to keep pace with modern technologies and payloads.

Nasa’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that “will lay the foundation for human exploration beyond the orbit of the Earth,” according to the space agency (artist’s impression)

These include robotic scientific missions to places such as the moon, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.

The first launch of the rocket, which will be unmanned, is scheduled for 2020 at the Kennedy Space Center of Nasa in Florida.

The initial configuration for what SLS can pass beyond a low orbit and to the moon is more than 26 tons, with a final configuration of at least 45 tons.

NASA plans to send people to deep-space destinations such as Mars and the moon aboard the SLS, with a date for a mission to the red planet for the 2030s.

“The completion of this initial construction of the space phases of the Space Launch System missile puts people at the point of a new era of space exploration,” said SLS program manager John Honeycutt.

“The SLS rocket from NASA has been developed to evolve so that a variety of missions can be accomplished – first to the moon for the Artemis missions and then to Mars and other distant space destinations.”

Despite current progress, however, the flagship launch system project has been years behind schedule and – according to an estimated July 2019 – about $ 1.8 million dollars above budget.

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines that undergo an eight-minute test fire

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines that undergo an eight-minute test fire

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines that undergo an eight-minute test fire

“The NASA SLS rocket has been developed to evolve so that a variety of missions can be accomplished – first to the moon for the Artemis missions and then to Mars and other distant space destinations,” said John Honeycutt, SLS -program manager

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines (shown), which will undergo a test fire of eight minutes

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines (shown), which will undergo a test fire of eight minutes

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines (shown), which will undergo a test fire of eight minutes

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines (shown), which will undergo a test fire of eight minutes

When the core arrives at the Stennis site, it is hoisted into a standard and subjected to extensive testing of both its avionics and propulsion systems and its four RS-25 engines (shown), which will undergo a test fire of eight minutes

The Pegasus barge - previously used for space shuttle ferry tanks - was made stronger and longer for the huge SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge - previously used for space shuttle ferry tanks - was made stronger and longer for the huge SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge – previously used for space shuttle ferry tanks – was made stronger and longer for the huge SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge - previously used for space shuttle ferry tanks - was made stronger and longer for the huge SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge - previously used for space shuttle ferry tanks - was made stronger and longer for the huge SLS hardware

The Pegasus barge – previously used for space shuttle ferry tanks – was made stronger and longer for the huge SLS hardware

“The completion of this first construction of the space phases of the Space Launch System missile puts people at the point of a new era of space exploration,” said program manager John Honeycutt

WHEN WILL NASA RETURN TO THE MOON?

In a statement in March, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine doubled plans to send people first to the moon and then to Mars and said: NASA is on its way to get people back on the moon by 2028.

The plan is based on the evolving Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, together with the orbital platform of Gateway.

SLS and Orion are expected to be ready for their first non-bolted test flight in 2020.

Construction on Gateway – an orbit around the moon – starts in 2022.

“We will be going to the moon in the next decade with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations on the moon surface than ever before,” said Bridenstine.

“When we go to the moon this time, we stay.

“We will use what we learn as we advance to the moon to make the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.”

Vice President Mike Pence, however, tore these plans and statements when he unexpectedly unveiled a new deadline in March in which he intended to put people on the moon by 2024 – four years earlier.

The VP called on NASA to ‘re-ignite the spark of urgency’ for space exploration and to make it a priority to set ‘daring goals’ and stay on schedule.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine added a week later, early April, that the agency would be “very close” to delivering a plan by April 15.

This has been missed for several weeks and the House Science Committee is now expressing its dissatisfaction with the lack of a feasible plan or program from the space agency.

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