All about NASA's Moon Rocket

May 6, 2022
4 min read
The space agency of US has unveiled its new massive Moon rocket for the first time.

The Kennedy Space Center in Florida's Launch Complex 39B welcomed NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for the first time on Thursday, March 17. The crawler-transporter began its approximately 4-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building at approximately 5:45 pm EDT. It arrived at the launch pad at 4:15 a.m. EDT on Friday, where it will be tested before being launched in a few weeks.

Artemis I was launched around 4:15 am ET on a Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Artemis I rocket will undergo a wet dress rehearsal in preparation for its final major test in the coming days. The team will demonstrate its ability to load cryogenic, or super-cold, propellants into the rocket, complete a launch countdown, and practise safely removing propellants from the launch pad during the two-day test. As soon as the wet dress rehearsal is done, the rocket and spacecraft will be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for final checkouts.

During a mock countdown at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a Space Launch System (SLS) was transported to Pad 39B.

Once everything goes well, the rocket will be declared ready to launch unmanned test capsules around the moon.

NASA will launch the SLS rocket within the next few months.

The second half of this decade is expected to see astronauts returning to the moon's surface.

Nasa's Artemis programme is responsible for these missions.

Bill Nelson, the agency's administrator, said we were entering a golden era of human space exploration as he watched the launch.

He told the throng assembled at Kennedy, "The Artemis generation is poised to reach new boundaries."

"This generation will send astronauts to the Moon for the first time in history, and the first woman and the first person of colour will be able to conduct groundbreaking research on the surface.

"The Artemis programme at NASA will prepare the path for humanity's enormous leap (to) future Mars missions."

SLS is a Colossus. As a spacecraft, it stood just under 100 metres tall and was hailed as being bigger and more powerful than the Apollo Saturn rockets of the 1960s and 1970s.

It will have enough thrust to carry astronauts far beyond Earth, as well as enough equipment and cargo for such crews to stay away for long periods.

The rocket's debut is Thursday's rollout from Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) because everyone has never seen all of its pieces properly stacked before.

The VAB SLS relocation commenced at 17:47 local Florida time.

The Mobile Launcher, a support gantry, was used to launch the rocket. Located atop the same massive tractor that once moved Saturn V rockets and later the space shuttle, this structure stands 120 metres tall and weighs 5,000 tonnes.

With a cruising speed of little over 1km/h, the Crawler Transporter is a very slow vehicle (under 1mph). By the time the procession arrived at Pad 39B at 04:15 on Friday morning, the tractor was stopped and started by engineers for various checks. A total distance of 6.75 kilometres was travelled.

In the coming weeks, SLS will conduct a "wet dress rehearsal," scheduled for the 3rd of April.

The rocket will be fueled with propellants and sent through a rehearsal countdown until it is only 9.4 seconds away from lift-off. Under the rocket, the "scrub" point occurs immediately before the four large engines of the shuttle era are generally light.

If all goes well and the engineers are satisfied, NASA might be able to set a flight date by the end of May, but June or July seems more likely.

The Artemis-1 mission would send the rocket's Orion crew capsule on a 26-day journey that will involve an enlarged orbit around the Moon. This will be the first test flight with no one inside, but a subsequent mission is expected in a few years.

As Nasa is developing the SLS, rocket entrepreneur Elon Musk is developing a much larger vehicle at his Texas research centre. His massive rocket is known as the Starship. It, like the SLS, has yet to fly the first flight. Unlike the SLS, Starship is a massive rocket yet to fly the first flight.

According to the OIG, which audits all Nasa programs, the first four SLS missions will cost more than $4 billion each, an amount that was deemed "unsustainable."

Why NASA is Rolling it out to the LaunchPad?

The Space Launch System (SLS) is being rolled out to the launch pad for testing. Even though SLS will launch on Thursday, NASA indicated in a press conference that it will not load propellants until April 3 and then conduct operations and countdown.

They'll then reset the timer to T–10 minutes and simulate a launch abort.

The loading of the fuel will take around eight hours, which is significantly longer than the two-hour loading process of the space shuttle's rocket.

There are two reasons for this: first, it is significantly larger than the shuttle-launching rockets, and second, it has two core stages in comparison with the external tank that launched the shuttles.

NASA will next conduct post-test operations for just over a week before returning SLS to the Vehicle Assembly Building for real launch preparations.

"At that point, as an agency, we'll be in a good position to set a launch date," Whitmeyer said.

"It's close to becoming a reality."

What is the Size of the Rocket?

The new rocket stands 98 metres tall (about 29 stories), barely shy of the 110 metres of the Saturn V, which carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon. But it's not about size: SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever constructed and the most strong and powerful rocket currently in the world.

It will have 15% more thrust than the Saturn V and be capable of launching around 24 metric tonnes to the moon. When it launches, it will weigh about 5.75 million pounds and have a push of 8.8 million pounds. It, like the Saturn V, is disposable.

And if the two white booster rockets appear familiar, that's because they were reused from the space shuttle boosters.

The Orion spacecraft, which was initially tested in 2014, will be launched by the rocket.

On their route to the moon, up to four astronauts will call home aboard the Orion command module. It will also include the European Service Module from the European Space Agency, which will provide air, propulsion, and electricity.