It will serve as the primary launch vehicle for NASA's deep space exploration missions, including the Artemis program's planned lunar flights and a possible human journey to Mars. The Artemis I mission will be the first in a series of increasingly complex missions aimed at re-establishing human presence on the Moon.
However, before it embarks on its space journey, the rocket needs to be assembled first here, on Earth. That's what NASA has shown us recently. The rocket was assembled on Friday, June 11th, at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The engineers with Exploration Ground Systems lifted the 212-foot (64.6 meters) core module and placed it in between smaller booster rockets.
As SLS is getting ready to takeoff later this year, there are still many steps and tests that need to be done. Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, crews will finish outfitting and other crucial assembly work before Artemis I rolls out to the launch pad.
The final configuration will stand 322 feet (98 meters) tall and weigh 5.75 million lbs (2,608 metric tons). That's bigger than the Statue of Liberty. SLS will also produce 8.8 million lbs (3,992 metric tons) of maximum thrust.
Artemis I is set to take place on November 22nd this year. Once above Earth, the rocket will officially kickstart the Artemis space program, which will see its first crewed lunar landing mission in 2024.
Engineers with Exploration Ground Systems and @JacobsConnects lifted the @NASA_SLS rocket core stage for the @NASAArtemis I mission in the Vehicle Assembly Building at @NASAKennedy. Check out this timelapse from operations. pic.twitter.com/Vnv6GnJ7VX— NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (@NASAGroundSys) June 11, 2021