The next increment to NASA’s Artemis project has finally been unveiled and it is arguably the most anticipated one.
NASA gave the public the first up-close look of their Space Launch System (the SLS) on Monday (9th December, 2019) at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, USA. Jim Bridenstine, a NASA Administrator deemed it “the most powerful rocket ever built.”
NASA’s Artemis project promises to take mankind back to the moon by 2024 and with the latest rounds of testing on the SLS succeeding, that goal seems much closer. NASA has tried to test the fuel tank of the SLS by constructing a test rig, a prototype of the actual SLS liquid hydrogen tank. This rig was subjected to harsh compression, tension, and bending forces and the structural integrity of it was measured by a number of stress, pressure, and temperature sensors attached to it.
The tank passed almost every test it was put under and failed only at the predicted, extreme points that were presented. With these tests finally being cleared, the assembly and testing core stage of the rocket is now complete. The organization can now move on to the next stage in its aim to reach the moon again.
The original launch date for the SLS was first supposed to be this December, before the turn of the decade. With the project running this much behind schedule, NASA aims to test-launch an unmanned SLS somewhere in 2021, with the manned expedition to the moon set to take place in 2024.