The Artemis I Stack now has its final piece of rocket hardware.
At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the final component of Space Launch System () rocket gear has been attached to the stack. Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at the spaceport, crews from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs installed the Orion stage adapter on top of the rocket. Crews will soon put the Orion spacecraft and its launch abort system on top of the Orion stage adapter to complete the Artemis I stack.
The Orion stage adapter, which was manufactured at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, connects Orion to the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), which was built at United Launch Alliance’s plant in Decatur, Alabama, by Boeing and United Launch Alliance. The ICPS will fire one RL10 engine during the mission to send Orion hurtling toward the Moon in a maneuver known as trans-lunar injection, or TLI.
The ICPS will split from Orion as it flies to the Moon for its mission, and then deploy ten secondary payloads that are travelling to space inside the Orion stage adapter. These CubeSats have their own propulsion systems, which will allow them to go to the Moon and other deep space destinations.
The ICPS and Orion stage adaptor are allowing SLS to launch its first science payloads into space on this uncrewed mission, but they will only be used for the first three Artemis missions. Future Artemis missions will employ the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS), a more powerful stage with four RL10 engines. The EUS is capable of sending 83,000 pounds to the Moon, which is 40% more than the ICPS. The EUS allows Orion, humans, and larger and heavier co-manifest cargo to be sent to the Moon.
Artemis A series of progressively difficult tasks will pursue me. NASA’s Artemis mission will put the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon’s surface, laying the groundwork for long-term lunar exploration in preparation for human expeditions. NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration is the SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, as well as the commercial human landing system and the Gateway in lunar orbit. The Space Launch System (SLS) is the only rocket capable of transporting Orion, crew, and supplies to the Moon in a single trip.