Pegasus Barge Set to Deliver SLS Core Stage Pathfinder to Kennedy Space Center to Support Artemis Moon Program

Pegasus Barge Set to Deliver SLS Core Stage Pathfinder to Kennedy Space Center to Support Artemis Moon Program
NASA’s Pegasus barge is slated to transport the Space Launch System core stage pathfinder to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27, 2019 from NASA Stennis. Seen here Pegasus is ready to haul an SLS LOX structural test article on June 28, 2019 from NASA Michoud to NASA Marshall for structural testing. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL/MICHOUD ASSEMBLY FACILITY, LA – NASA’s Pegasus barge is set to deliver the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) core stage pathfinder vehicle to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida for critical testing in support of the Artemis moon exploration program aimed at landing US astronauts on the lunar south pole by 2024. 
The core stage is scheduled to arrive in the Turn Basin at KSC on board the Pegasus Barge on Friday, Sept. 27 and then be offloaded and moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Monday, Sept. 30.
Media including Space UpClose have been invited to attend. Watch for our on site coverage and photos both days. 
The SLS core stage pathfinder is being transported from NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi where it has completed fit check testing for the upcoming ‘green run’ engine test.
Side view of NASA’s Pegasus barge slated to transport the Space Launch System core stage pathfinder to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27, 2019 from NASA Stennis. Seen here Pegasus is ready to haul an SLS LOX structural test article on June 28, 2019 from NASA Michoud to NASA Marshall for structural testing. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Pegasus is NASA’s one of a kind barge used to transport the space vehicle hardware between NASA centers for testing and eventually to the launch site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Pegasus has been lengthened to accommodate the SLS core stage which is longer than the Space Shuttle External Tanks it previously shipped from NASA Michoud to NASA KSC. 

The SLS core stage pathfinder is a full-scale mockup that is identical to the core stage in shape, size and weight. 

NASA cleared a milestone in preparation for Green Run testing of its Space Launch System (SLS) core stage with an Aug. 23/24 lift and installation of the core stage pathfinder simulator onto the B-2 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The lift and installation of the core stage pathfinder – a size and weight replica of the SLS core stage – is helping teams at Stennis prepare for the Green Run test series.  Credits: NASA/SSC

The pathfinder hardware will be used by NASA engineers and contractors to practice stacking the hardware in the VAB High Bay 3 using the same procedures needed to stack the real hardware for the Artemis I mission.

“The pathfinder, though not actual flight hardware, will provide the SLS program, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team with the opportunity to practice stacking maneuvers and certify the new system inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) High Bay 3 before Artemis flight hardware arrives next year,” say NASA officials. 

“Over the next several months, pathfinder will be used to validate ground support equipment and demonstrate how the core stage will be integrated in the VAB – the same process the actual core stage will undergo when being processed for Artemis I.”

NASA will conduct a full duration ‘green run’ engine fire test of the completed core stage at Stennis to fully confirm its readiness for flight. But that test will require six months of intense effort work.

NASA’s Pegasus barge is slated to transport the Space Launch System core stage pathfinder to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27, 2019 from NASA Stennis. Seen here Pegasus is ready to haul an SLS LOX structural test article on June 28, 2019 from NASA Michoud to NASA Marshall for structural testing. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

After months of deliberating back and forth NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced July 25 that he has ‘greenlighted’ the “Green Run” full duration engine test of the agency’s core stage for the mammoth Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket next year at NASA’s Stennis Space Center – ahead of the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission launch.

Bridenstine had considered curtailing and even cancelling the 8 minute long full duration core stage engine test until recently in favor of a much shorter duration static test fire lasting only a few seconds on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center – but ultimately cited astronaut safety and rocket reliability as the top reasons for his decision to give the ‘Go Ahead’ to the ‘Green Run’

NASA’s SLS Mobile Launcher rolls out at sunrise along the crawlerway to Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jun. 27, 2019 for the final trip with no rocket atop time for key final testing and checkouts. Its next roll to the pad will be with the 1st Space Launch System rocket and integrated Orion spacecraft in preparation for the debut launch of Artemis 1 slated for NET late 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The ”Green Run” test involves conducting a full duration eight minute long static fire test of the 212 foot long (64.6 m) SLS core stage at the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Flight Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The test would be run at some point next year and pave the way to the first Artemis lunar mission set to blastoff on the uncrewed Artemis-1 test flight perhaps by late 2020 or more likely in 2021.

NASA’s Pegasus barge is slated to transport the Space Launch System core stage pathfinder to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27, 2019 from NASA Stennis. Seen here Pegasus is ready to haul an SLS LOX structural test article on June 28, 2019 from NASA Michoud to NASA Marshall for structural testing. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
SLS Mobile Launcher atop pad 39B at KSC.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com


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