United States.- After more than a decade of design, development and construction, NASA is finally getting closer to being able to launch the most powerful rocket it has ever built in its history, the SLS.
The “Space Launch System”, or Space Launch System, is the backbone of the Artemis project, with which the US space agency plans to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon in the coming years.
Although this time the objective of Artemis is very different from that of his brother Apollo, the one who in the 60s and 70s achieved, with six missions, that 12 people walked on our satellite, Artemis instead seeks a sustainable plan to achieve a permanent presence of humans on the Moon.
The first step is to have a heavy-lift rocket capable of carrying crew and equipment to orbit the Moon. It is there where the SLS plays a preponderant role. With 98m of height, and almost 4 million Kg of thrust, this first version of the SLS, called “Block 1”, can carry up to 27 tons of cargo.
The SLS began to be conceived and built more than a decade ago and finally yesterday, at around 6 pm local time, it began to be transported from the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), to its launch pad, 39B, inside the Kennedy Space Center.
This trip, known in English as the “rollout”, took 11 hours, and once mounted on its mobile launch platform, it was transported by a caterpillar that at a very slow speed, was in charge of depositing them almost at 5 in the morning in its destination, platform 39A, from where it will take off for the Artemis 1 mission.
The SLS won’t be launched until June, but over the next two weeks it will undergo several critical tests involving wet dress rehearsal, testing its interaction with the platform’s ground systems, as well as testing its systems. Communication. The SLS will also conduct a countdown drill to test all software systems, a critical area of this gigantic rocket.
“The software is vital” assures José Perez Morales, Senior Project Manager in the Earth Exploration Systems (EGS) area “an area of vital importance since it manages all the SLS systems and it is the first time that we are going to carry out tests that involve all the components together, on the platform, and under the same conditions as a real launch”, he comments during his talk with Debate.
The Artemis 1 mission will not only test the capabilities of the SLS rocket, but also the Orion capsule, built by Lockheed Martin and which will carry crews to and from the Moon on future missions. Orion has a European service module, which will provide fuel, electricity and propulsion, among other critical systems.
Carlos García Galán, Integration Manager of the European module spoke with Debate about the special characteristics that this section of the vehicle brings to the Artemis project, and how NASA also works together with other international partners, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), among others. , in pursuit of a common goal that is to reach the Moon.
It was without a doubt a historic day, perhaps the initial kick of a process that can return to humanity the ability to go beyond, once again, the orbit of our own planet and to be able now, and permanently, to explore and live in other worlds, beginning with our own satellite.
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