Crews work around the clock in a NASA rocket factory to meet the new deadline for launching a mega rocket in the fall of 2020 that will transport astronauts to the Moon and beyond, an official told the Space Agency on Friday.
"I came out here in the middle of the night … and talked to people who worked hard on the engine during the night," Deputy NASA Administrator James Morhard said on a press tour in New Orleans, Michoud Assembly Center ,
He said the core rocket assembly – or space launch system – is 80 percent complete and one in five sections is still in the assembly.
If all goes well, the often belated Artemis 1 test flight expected to take place will take place in the fall of 2020, although no launch date has yet been announced. The missile is designed to launch a screwed-off Orion capsule before the engines are dropped after 8 minutes and 14 seconds. The capsule will make a double loop around the moon during a 25½-day flight, according to NASA.
Officials say no current or planned commercial missile is as powerful as the space launch system, which will carry a cargo of three times as heavy as the Space Shuttle. They also called it a new approach to reach the moon, unlike the Apollo missions decades ago.
"The exciting part is that this will not happen like Apollo … where we put a flag on the moon and go," said Lionel Dutreix, deputy superintendent at Michoud. "We will always return to the moon and use it as a technical base and knowledge to get to Mars, and we need to make sure that this rocket meets these requirements."
The rocket can not be reused, as current plans indicate that it would cost more to rescue and overhaul the engine assembly than to build, Dutreix said.
In December, the giant rocket is to be transported on NASA launch Pegasus for testing at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. It will be 98 meters high with the Orion spacecraft and its fuel tank – higher than the Statue of Liberty, but shorter than the Saturn V rocket that launched the Skylab space station, and the Apollo program that brought men to space became moon.
The rocket group currently assembled in Michoud will contain four RS-25 engines carrying spaceships.
The engines could be seen in Michoud, and their broad rear ends were decorated with bright red covers labeled "THESE SIDES FACE AFT". According to official figures, NASA has another dozen for further Artemis missions, six more are under contract.
When asked if $ 20-30 billion was an exact figure for the program's cost overrun, the deputy administrator said, "I will not stand here and set an exact budget."
Nor would Morhard say if he expects NASA to receive the US $ 1.6 billion increase in the 2020 budget for President Donald Trump's space research.
"The House added $ 1.3 billion to science The Senate did not write down the bill, so I'll wait and see what the Senate is doing," he said.
NASA dubbed the 2024 Moon Mission & # 39; Artemis & # 39; and requires $ 1.6 billion
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NASA: Intensive work on missiles for future lunar shots (2019, June 29)
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