Stacking NASA’s Giant Rocket

Boeing employees at NASA’s Michoud facility complete a forward join on the SLS rocket core stage.

February 08, 2019 in Space

Boeing teams working on America’s next great rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), are now connecting the rocket segments for final assembly.

Boeing workers at NASA’s Michoud facility in New Orleans assembled the top half of the SLS core stage – the intertank, liquid oxygen tank and forward skirt - in a vertical stacking cell. The process is called a forward join.  The forward join will then be connected to the bottom half of the rocket – the liquid hydrogen tank and engine section – to complete the 212-foot core stage.

At the same time, production of the second core stage for Exploration Mission 2 is underway.

Once the completed core stage is tested at Stennis Space Center, it will be stacked at Kennedy Space Center with the upper part of the rocket, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, and the Orion capsule, and joined to the rocket's twin solid rocket boosters, in preparation for first launch, Exploration Mission 1 (EM1). The SLS will carry to Orion out of Earth’s atmosphere to orbit the moon, in preparation for launching astronauts even deeper into space.