Members of the media have been invited to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for Artemis Day on Monday 9 December.
Those attending will get a rare up-close look at the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will power the first Artemis mission to the Moon.
Artemis Day will begin at 9am EST (Eastern Standard Time) and feature a news conference with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who will discuss the status of the agency’s Artemis programme.
A question-and-answer session will follow the discussion. The news conference will be carried live on NASA Television and agency Web site (www.nasa.gov/nasalive
On Tuesday 10 December, participants will have the opportunity to tour NASA’s Stennis Space Centre in Bay St Louis (Mississippi) and see where the core stage will be tested, before it is shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for launch with the Orion spacecraft.
On 6 November, engineers and technicians attached the last of four RS-25 engines that will provide the thrust needed for the rocket to reach space.
To complete assembly of the stage, technicians are attaching the engines to propulsion and avionics systems inside the core stage, which also houses the flight computers that control the rocket during its first 8min of flight.
In December, engineers will perform testing on all the avionics and electrical systems. NASA’s ‘barge’ — Pegasus — will then transport the completed core stage from Michoud to Stennis for the Green Run test series in 2020.
The 212ft-tall core stage, comprised of two liquid-propellant tanks and four RS-25 engines, is the powerhouse of the SLS rocket. It will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust to send Orion, astronauts and cargo to the Moon.
It is the largest and most complex rocket stage NASA has built since the Saturn V stages that powered the Apollo missions to the Moon.
SLS and Orion, along with the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s ‘backbone’ for deep-space exploration and the Artemis programme, which will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024.
SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.
More information on NASA’s Artemis programme can be found at the Web site (www.nasa.gov/artemis