Following a series of critical contract awards and hardware milestones, an update on NASA’s Artemis program is now available, including the latest Phase 1 plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024.
In the 18 months since NASA accepted a bold challenge to accelerate its exploration plans by more than four years and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade, the agency has continued to gain momentum toward sending humans to the Moon again for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
The document captures Artemis progress to date, identifying the key science, technology and human missions as well as the commercial and international partnerships that will ensure we continue to lead in exploration and achieve our ambitious goal to land astronauts on the Moon.
Technicians with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems rehearse booster stacking operations inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, Sept.14, in preparation for the Artemis I launch. The team is using full-scale replicas of booster segments, referred to as pathfinders, for the practice exercise in one of the tallest sections, or high bays, of the VAB built for stacking rockets. As part of the rehearsal, a pathfinder for an aft segment, the very bottom of the stack, was prepared in High Bay 4. Then, a team of crane operators moved the segment into High Bay 3, where it was placed on the mobile launcher. Careful measurements were taken before the team added a center segment to the stack.
The actual Space Launch System (SLS) booster segments will be stacked on the mobile launcher later this year, following completion of Green Run testing of the rocket’s core stage – a series of eight tests taking place at the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Engineers have completed the fifth of eight Green Run tests on the core stage of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, continuing progress toward a hot fire test this fall. Operators evaluated the stage’s thrust vector control system on the historic B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., on Sept. 13. The test provided critical verification of the control system and its related hydraulics as operators moved the stage’s four RS-25 engines as they must move during flight to steer the rocket and maintain a proper trajectory. The stage now is set for two more tests – a simulated countdown demonstration and wet dress rehearsal – directly leading to the hot fire of all four RS-25 engines, as during an actual flight.
In the countdown demonstration, engineers will simulate the launch countdown and procedures to validate the established timeline and sequence of events. In the wet dress rehearsal, engineers will conduct another countdown exercise and actually load, control and drain more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic propellants to ensure all is set for the final test of the Green Run series. The concluding test will activate all stage systems and fire the four RS-25 engines to generate the same combined 1.6 million pounds of thrust that will help launch the SLS rocket when it flies on the Artemis I mission.
Teams from NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and prime contractor Northrop Grumman successfully completed the Flight Support Booster-1 (FSB-1) ground test at Northrop Grumman’s test facility in Promontory, Utah. Watch a replay of the test on NASA Television or NASA’s YouTube channel. Learn more about the test at https://www.nasa.gov/media/flight-support-booster-test.html
Final systems checks for NASA’s Space Launch Systems (SLS) Flight Support Booster-1 (FSB-1) test are complete and the test conductor has given the ground test a “go.” The test fire is scheduled to begin at 1:05 MDT, 3:05 p.m. EDT. Watch the FSB-1 test live on NASA Television or the agency’s website.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Flight Support Booster-1 (FSB-1) test is in a scheduled hold of the countdown. The hold allows time for remaining personnel to evacuate the test area to their designated locations. The test team will also check motor temperatures and confirm data acquisition systems are ready to record. The test fire is scheduled for 1:05 MDT 3:05 p.m. EDT.
Live coverage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Flight Support Booster-1 (FSB-1) ground test has begun on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The test fire is scheduled to begin at 3:05 EDT. Systems checks are underway for the full-scale, five-segment solid rocket booster ground test at Northrop Grumman’s test facility on Promontory, Utah. This is the first in a series of tests that are examining motor performance for potential new materials and processes that may be incorporated in the booster after the Artemis III lunar mission.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will conduct a test of Flight Support Booster-1 (FSB-1) Sept. 2, 2020 at Northrop Grumman’s test facility in Promontory, Utah. Northrop Grumman manufactures the two five-segment solid rocket boosters that will provide more than 75 percent of the vehicle’s thrust for the first two minutes of ascent. Live coverage of the test will begin at 2:45 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
FSB-1 is a full-scale, five-segment solid rocket booster ground test that supports flights of NASA’s Space Launch System. This is the same model booster that will power the SLS rocket and Orion capsule on the Artemis I mission. The test is scheduled for 1:05 MDT, 3:05 p.m. EDT and has a planned duration of a little over 2 minutes, the same amount of time that the boosters power the rocket during liftoff and flight. The objective of the test is to confirm motor performance and manufacturing quality for potential new materials and processes that will be used in boosters supporting future Artemis missions.
More details about the FSB-1 test and SLS solid rocket boosters:
The launch team for Artemis I is back in the firing room at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for more practice. The team conducted a simulation on the procedures for cryogenic loading, or fueling the Space Launch System rocket with super cold propellants. During simulations potential problems are introduced to the team to test the application of firing room tools, processes, and procedures.
The Exploration Ground Systems team of launch controllers who will oversee the countdown and liftoff of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will be practicing the procedures several more times ahead of launch. Special protocols have been put in place to keep personnel safe and healthy, including limiting personnel in the firing room, using acrylic dividers and adjusting assigned seating for the cryo team.
Every detail that goes into space exploration matters. While habitat design or making sure a rocket is powerful enough to launch supplies are obviously important, what may be less apparent are the smaller things, including the solvents used in manufacturing materials for spaceflight.
On Aug. 6, a 22-second hot fire test in the East Test Area at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, helped NASA and Northrop Grumman Corporation in Promontory, Utah – the solid rocket booster prime contractor – evaluate a new nozzle material for the Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters. These boosters produce more than 75 percent of the power to launch the rocket.
The nozzle construction enables the boosters to provide consistent performance while withstanding the 5,000 degree Fahrenheit flame produced as the solid fuel is burned to launch the rocket. Such material changes are checked out in phases from sub-scale to full-scale tests and this 24-inch motor was a significant step in that process. Using a 24-inch-diameter, 20-foot-long sub-scale test motor that burned nearly 1,800 pounds of propellant and produced 23,000 pounds of thrust, the team collected data to help verify use of the solvent on future SLS flights beyond Artemis III.
“This 24-inch motor test is to evaluate the material in a solid rocket motor environment and make sure that we don’t get any unexpected changes in how it performs,” said Tim Lawrence, manager for motor and booster separation motor systems at Marshall.
While the solid rocket boosters that will be used on NASA’s Space Launch System – which this test supports – are 177 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter, the motor used in the test is still large enough to produce valuable data.
“This booster is only 24-inches but the ability to fire it in a test stand helps us get the data we need to confirm that we want to test it in a larger, full-scale test,” Dennis Strickland, the test conductor said.
In addition to data about the solvent’s effects on the material during motor operation, engineers also collected information about its behavior during booster assembly.
“The 24-inch motor is large enough that we were able to use the same processes to manufacture the nozzle as are used on the full-scale motor and that gives us confidence it will provide a good indication of full-scale performance,” Lawrence explained.
While the verification test was to primarily support the SLS rocket, the test data may also be used by other government agencies to help advance their solid rocket propulsion technology as NASA and the agencies routinely share data with other government agencies and industry. Data sharing enhances capabilities and maximizes the return on investment for the taxpayer.
NASA’s SLS booster is based on three decades of knowledge and experience gained with the space shuttle boosters and has been updated with the latest technology. The agency is working to design, develop, and test next-generation boosters that will power SLS flights after all available shuttle-era hardware is expended. NASA has cast segments for the Artemis I and Artemis II lunar missions, the first two SLS flights, and has begun casting the Artemis III mission. Northrop Grumman delivered the segments for Artemis I to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 15.
SLS and the Orion spacecraft, along with the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration and the Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.