US engineers and technicians at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida are preparing the Space Launch System (SLS), the largest rocket so far built, for its unmanned test launch and then its first manned lunar mission with a crew on board, NASA announced in a press release on Tuesday.
“As teams continue to prepare NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its debut flight with the launch of Artemis I, NASA and its partners across the country have made great progress building the rocket for Artemis II, the first crewed Artemis mission,” the release said.
The team is also manufacturing and testing major parts for Artemis missions III, IV and V, NASA continued.
“The Space Launch System team is not just building one rocket but manufacturing several rockets for exploration missions and future SLS flights beyond the initial Artemis launch,” NASA SLS program manager John Honeycutt said at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
With its two solid rocket boosters and four RS-25 engines, SLS produces more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch each Artemis mission beyond Earth’s orbit and onward to the Moon. The rocket features some of the largest, most advanced, and most reliable hardware elements ever built for space exploration, NASA said.