The 212-foot-long core stage for the Artemis 1 mission rolls into the Vehicle Assembly Building Thursday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now
A decade in the making, the core stage for NASA’s first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket rolled into the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center Thursday to join up with twin solid rocket boosters and an Orion capsule for an unpiloted test flight around the moon.
Clad in orange foam thermal insulation, the 212-foot-long (64.6-meter) rocket rolled off NASA’s Pegasus barge Thursday morning on a transport cradle driven by a self-propelled mechanism that carefully drove the core stage the nearly half-mile distance from the Turn Basin to the south door of the VAB.
Ground teams took their time with the operation, moving the rocket along at a glacial pace after an issue with the self-propelled transporter delayed the start of the offload from the Pegasus barge by about three hours.
Finally, the rocket emerged at around 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) Thursday from the Pegasus vessel, a specially-designed barge that once hauled external fuel tanks for space shuttles from their factory in New Orleans to the Florida launch site. ...