For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The maiden core stage of NASA’s mammoth Space Launch System (SLS) mega rocket set to launch on the history making Artemis 1 mission to deliver NASA’s Orion deep space human rated capsule to the Moon has safely arrived by barge at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida late Tuesday afternoon, April 27, after a 900 mile journey from the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and briefly passing by the historic SpaceX Falcon 9 booster that launch the Crew-2 astronauts to the International Space Station days ago.
The 212-foot-tall SLS core stage arrived aboard the 310-foot-long specially elongated Pegasus barge towed into the Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf on a sunny Tuesday afternoon berthing adjacent to the iconic VAB and passing by the proudly fluttering US Flag and world famous Countdown Clock.
NASA’s unique Pegasus barge was previously used to transport the External Tanks (ET) for NASA’s three decade long space shuttle program until the orbiters retirement in 2011.
Pegasus arrived into the mouth of Port Canaveral at around 1 p.m. ET towed past Jetty Park pier and beachgoers to cheers and waves as it made its way along the narrow channel passing through an opened draw bridge and locks and then north up the Banana River along the way to KSC.
The giant barge made for an especially super impressive site as two history making rocket boosters were briefly nearby one another in Port Canaveral – the SLS core stage was towed past the recently recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage that is the first to launch two crews of four multinational astronauts on the Crew-1 and Crew-1 missions.
Technicians had just retracted all four landing legs on the 15-story Falcon 9 booster B1060.2 with about the past hour of Pegasus passing by.
Enjoy our photos of the core stage barge arrival at Port Canaveral and KSC Turn Basin wharf from the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright. Check back as the gallery grows
The SLS core stage is the final piece of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to arrive at KSC that will propel NASA’s Artemis I mission to the Moon on a launch still targeted by NASA for late 2021 but that could slip into early 2022 considering the huge amount of processing and preparation work still ahead.
This 1st SLS core stage was transported to KSC following the successful completion of the critical and long awaited Green run hot test fire of the four Aerojet-Rocketdyne RS-25 engines mounted on the base of the stage.
The core stage hot fire was the culmination of the Green Run series of tests of its design and systems on the B-2 test stand in Mississippi.
The hot fire was the culmination of the Green Run series of tests of its design and systems on the B-2 test stand in Mississippi.
The 21-story tall core stage is the largest rocket stage NASA has ever built.
“After a 900-mile journey, teams aboard the barge, which was modified to support SLS’s weight and length, safely piloted the specialized self-sustaining vessel to the spaceport,” said NASA.
“With the delivery of the SLS core stage for Artemis I, we have all the parts of the rocket at Kennedy for the first Artemis mission,” said John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama,
“Our team looks forward to working with the Exploration Ground Systems team as all these huge pieces come together to build America’s Moon rocket”.
Now that the core stage is at Kennedy, the next step is to “offload it from the barge to be prepared for stacking. It will be taken to the center’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building on the self-propelled module transporter, which is used to move large elements of hardware.”
“Teams from Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs will lead the efforts to integrate the massive rocket stage with the Orion spacecraft and the additional flight hardware ahead of the Artemis I launch. Waiting to greet the core stage inside the facility are the twin solid rocket boosters that have been fully stacked atop the mobile launcher and the launch vehicle stage adapter housed inside High Bay 4,” said NASA officials.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Core Stage to Florida for our team to begin the integration of the SLS launch vehicle” said Mike Bolger, NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program manager at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “We have been working diligently towards this moment and are honored to contribute to our nation’s space exploration goals with the launch of Artemis I.”
NASA successfully completed the critical and long awaited hot test fire of the core stage engines for agencies the Space Launch System (SLS) human rated mega Moon rocket, March 18, on a test stand in Mississippi thus enabling its shipment to the Kennedy Space Center.
The shipment to KSC is paving the path for launch of the uncrewed Artemis-1 moon mission late this year or early next year followed by future Artemis missions with astronauts to orbit and land on the surface.
SLS serves as the backbone of the Artemis program and the nation’s future deep space exploration missions.
The SLS core stage measures 212 feet tall and 27.6 feet in diameter
It is equipped with four RS-25 engines fueled by LOX and LH2 to generate 2 million ;pounds of liftoff thrust.
to help power the SLS rocket at launch. SLS was built by prime contractor Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.”
Artemis I will be the first integrated test of SLS and Orion and will pave the way for landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.
Ken is onsite for the Pegasus arrival and offloading activities at KSC
Watch for detailed reports upcoming.
Watch my live SpaceX Crew-2 post launch interview on The Donlan Report on News Nation Cable News about Artemis and the significance of the NASA SpaceX Crew 2 launch to ISS launch, Commercial Space, Mars rover/helicopter, the future of space travel and Elon Musk’s plan to build a city on Mars.
On the heels of the latest successful @SpaceX crew launch to the @Space_Station, @JoeDonlonTV was joined by @Ken_Kremer to talk about the significance of this launch and Elon Musk’s plan to build a city on #Mars.#SomethingToThinkAbout #NewsNation #InTheNews #TDR #TheDonlonReport pic.twitter.com/uRFjKLD0cS
— The Donlon Report (@TheDonlonReport) April 24, 2021
Watch my live interview on ‘Stay Curious’ show about NASA SpaceX Crew 2 mission and NASA Ingenuity Helicopter 1st flight – on April 29 at the American Space Museum Titusville, FL
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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