The Space Launch System rocket, or SLS, is entering a critical year, with 2020 to see the completion and full-duration test firing of the Core Stage as well as the convergence of all flight elements for the Artemis 1 mission into the Kennedy Space Center.
Exactly when the first SLS mission will launch is still ambiguous. What is clear is there has been about a month of schedule loss in the last half of 2018, and that a Spring 2021 launch of Artemis 1 is “realistic.”
However, most of spring 2021 would result in night launches – which could push the mission into May for daylight launch considerations/needs.
For SLS, 2019 was an interesting year.
The most public occurrence for the program came when the NASA Administrator and current presidential administration threatened to take Boeing to task and look for commercial alternatives to SLS if the aerospace giant could not meet its timeline commitments building the massive core stage of the rocket.
The unusual public chastisement of Boeing was seen largely as a moment of theater designed to light a fire under Boeing to get the project moving along on the schedules the company had set for ...