November 24, 2020

Preparations of NASA’s mega-rocket to the moon mission

2 min read

At Kennedy Space Center on 20th October, is where the massive platform of the Vehicle Assembly Building was rolled out over NASA’s crawler carrier. The platform is 380-foot-tall and will be used to move the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket during the Artemis 1 lunar mission later next year. The platform has been tested for two weeks as a way of preparing it for the looming mission. On Tuesday, past midnight is when the MLP started its 6.8 kilometres crawl. It took around ten hours to reach the launch pad’s top. The pad’s journey is an essential part of Artemis 1 and SLS launch missions. 

The platform is expected to remain at complex 39B for almost two weeks while undergoing an array of pre-launch activities. The engineers will clean all parts of the MLP, removing all debris remains and umbilical arms. Lanham Cliff told Space.com that the purpose of thorough cleaning of the MLP is risk reduction during the launch of the Orion/SLS. He said that to remove all the debris from hard-to-reach areas, the engineers will use high-pressure water. 

Cliff added that all teams involved in the launch would carry out countdown demonstrations to ensure everything goes as planned and the launch is completed within the stipulated time. He added that the mobile launcher was made from scratch though it was supposed to be used during NASA’s Constellation Program; the engineers reshaped it so that it can carry SLS. In 2024, NASA plans to land on the moon the next man together with the first woman. However, it must carry out some tests on the spacecraft and the rocket for this to happen. In late 2021, the Artemis 1 mission intends to dispatch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to the moon. This will serve as a testing ground if it’s safe to send humans. 

As of now, NASA is doing some tests on the first SLS rocket before conducting the green run hot-fire test of the rocket’s four RS-25 engines in November. The test is carried out at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, and the last most gigantic milestones prior to next year’s launch. The test of the Artemis 1 flight will be to illustrate the performance of the vehicle. The first crewed flight known as the Artemis 2 will carry human beings around the moon and safely bring them back to Earth. This is set to happen later in 2022.