Last test article for NASA’s SLS rocket departs Michoud

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NASA photograph by Jude Guidry

The last of four structural test articles for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) was loaded onto NASA’s Pegasus barge Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The barge will deliver the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank structural test article from Michoud to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for critical structural testing. The liquid oxygen tank is one of two propellant tanks in the rocket’s core stage that will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help send Artemis 1, the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and SLS, to the Moon. The nearly 70-foot-long test article is structurally identical to the flight version, which will hold 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen super cooled to minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.