NASA’s mission managers announced the agency is ready to rollout its Artemis moon rocket to the launch pad this week. The rocket, officially named, Space Launch System (SLS) will undergo testing and a wet dress rehearsal before to launch later this year.
Following completion of a test readiness review, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the Artemis launch director for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program addressed the media saying, “We are in very good shape and ready to proceed with this roll on Thursday evening.”
The rollout of SLS is currently scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CT, Thursday, March 17th moving from the doors of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SLS is currently waiting in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building where it was stacked on the mobile launcher over the past several months. Crawler-transporter 2 (CT-2), which was previously used to move both Saturn V rockets and Space Shuttles to the pad, has been moved into place this week. Modifications and upgrades have been made to the transporter to move SLS.
Moving at a maximum speed of 0.8 mph, it will take CT-2 11 hours to move SLS to the pad. Along the way, crews will conduct a dynamic rollout test to compare actual loads to analytical models.
Once SLS reaches the pad teams will begin a series of tests and systems checks to ensure readiness. Finally, a wet dress rehearsal that includes propellant loading, checking avionics and software, and going through a countdown will be conducted.
The launch of Artemis 1 relies on the successful completion of every test planned to prepare for flight, as does a final launch date. Following the full stack tests and dress rehearsal, SLS will be rolled back to the VAB where it will be prepared for Artemis 1 and the flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems.