NASA’s Pegasus barge arrives in the Turn Basin at the Kennedy Space Center Tuesday evening. Credit: Steven Young / Spaceflight Now
The core stage of NASA’s first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday evening aboard a specially-built barge, completing a voyage by sea from a test site in Mississippi to begin final preparations for the first flight of NASA’s Artemis Moon program.
The 310-foot-long (94.4-meter) transport vessel completed a nearly five-day trip from NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, delivering the SLS core stage for the Artemis 1 lunar test flight to Florida’s Space Coast after an eight-minute test firing of the rocket’s four main engines March 18.
Engineers and technicians at Kennedy will ready the rocket to launch an unpiloted Orion crew capsule on a multi-week test flight around the Moon. If the test flight goes well, the next SLS/Orion mission — Artemis 2 — will carry three NASA astronauts and a Canadian crew member on the first human mission to lunar distances since the Apollo program.
Future Artemis missions will land astronauts near the Moon’s south pole.
Under tow, the Pegasus barge arrived at Port Canaveral, transferred through locks, and then ...