All four RS-25 engines, leftovers from the space shuttle program, have been installed on the first Space Launch System core stage. Credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon
NASA has declared assembly complete on the core stage for the first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket in New Orleans, signaling a long-awaited transition from manufacturing to testing as the core stage is set to move to the nearby Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for a hold-down firing next year of its four shuttle-era main engines.
The four RS-25 engines that will power the first SLS core stage have been installed on the rocket inside NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, and the 212-foot-long (65-meter), 27.6-foot-wide (8.4-meter) vehicle will soon be rolled out of the factory and transferred by barge to its next stop on the road to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Once the stage — built by Boeing — arrives at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, teams will lift the rocket on the B-2 test stand, originally built to test the first stage of the Saturn 5 moon rocket, for a series of structural and modal testing, fueling rehearsals and an eight-minute firing of all four RS-25 engines ...