Second RS-25 engine attached to NASA Moon rocket

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NASA photograph by Eric Bordelon

The second RS-25 engine has been attached to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket for the agency’s Artemis missions. Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans structurally mated the second of four engines to the stage on Oct. 30 and are currently integrating the propulsion and electrical systems within the structure to complete the installation. Integration of the RS-25 engines to the recently completed core stage structure is a collaborative, multistep process for NASA and its partners Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-25 engines lead contractor. The four RS-25 engines for Artemis I are modified heritage flight hardware from the Space Shuttle Program, ensuring high performance and reliability to power NASA’s next generation lunar missions. Each engine also has a special identification number, and NASA keeps a history of which engines are used on each mission. The second engine, Engine 2045, has flown on several shuttle missions, including the mission that returned NASA astronaut John Glenn to space in 1998 as well as the first and only shuttle launch to occur on Independence Day in 2006.

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.