2016 is well underway. Another year over, another year begun.
For the SLS program, it means we’re even further past the halfway point toward launch readiness. It’s been only four years since the program officially began in September 2011, and we’re working toward being ready in less than three years for our first launch.
The day this is a photograph instead of an artist’s concept will be a good day.
The bulk of the first four years was focused on completing the design. To be sure, there was smoke and fire and bending metal as we tested boosters and engines and began building the barrels for the core stage of the rocket. Building on the foundation of the Space Shuttle Program allowed us to move quickly into testing of the engines and boosters, and the design work on the core stage progressed rapidly enough to allow us to begin early manufacturing, and all of that was preparation for what would come when we completed the critical design review of the plans.
RS-25 Engine 2059 is currently in the stand for testing at Stennis Space Center. A few years ago, it powered Atlantis’ longest mission, and a few years from now, ...