Saturday, December 10, 2016
EM-1 Update: The First Major SLS Rocket Component Is Essentially Complete...
Major Assembly Complete on System that will Pack a Powerful Push for Orion (News Release - December 9)
The propulsion system that will give the Orion spacecraft the in-space push needed to travel thousands of miles beyond the Moon and back has completed major assembly at United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Decatur, Alabama. The Boeing-designed interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system that will give Orion an extra punch of power on the first, uncrewed flight of the spacecraft with NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System in late 2018. The first integrated exploration mission will allow NASA to use the lunar vicinity as a proving ground to test systems farther from Earth, and demonstrate Orion can get to a stable orbit in the area of space near the moon in order to support sending humans to deep space, including the Journey to Mars.
With major assembly now complete on the flight hardware, the ICPS has several more steps to go, including avionics installation at the ULA-Decatur factory; barge and road transport to the Delta Operating Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, for avionics and system-level testing; and delivery to NASA in mid-2017.