Three months after arriving by barge, the massive core stage of NASA’s moon rocket now stands upright inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.
But how do you lift a 212 ft. long piece of hardware that weighs as much as a blue whale from horizontal to vertical and place it between two rocket boosters already in place?
In short: very slowly.
NASA released a time lapse video showing the core stage appearing to fly through the VAB and effortlessly inserted between the solid rocket boosters but the whole process actually took a few days.
To pull off this incredible engineering feat, five overhead cranes were used to lift and maneuver the over 188,000 pound core stage into place. The bright orange core stage is the backbone of the Space Launch System, NASA’s deep space rocket built for human space travel. Built by Boeing, the first stage houses the flight computers and avionics as well as the fuel that powers the stage’s four engines.
The SLS is slated to launch later this year on an uncrewed test flight as part of NASA’s Artemis program to send the first woman to the moon.
Before that happens, there is still alot of work to do including stacking the propulsion stage and then topping it off with the Orion spacecraft.
When SLS is complete it will stand at 322 feet, taller than the Statue of Liberty, weigh 5.75 million lbs. and produce 8.8 million lbs. of maximum thrust, 15 percent more thrust than NASA’s first moon rocket, the Saturn V.
Contact Rachael Joy at 321-242-3577. Follow her on Twitter @Rachael_Joy.