Boeing’s 1st Core Stage for NASA’s Space Launch System is Ready for Journey to Launch Site

SLS Core stage for Artemis I mission removed from the test stand at Stennis. (Credit: NASA)
  • Stennis refurbishment complete following flawless test fire
  • NASA to accept delivery of rocket stage to prepare for transport to Kennedy Space Center for integration and launch

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Mississippi, April 21, 2021 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA]  begins delivery of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket cryogenic core stage to NASA today in preparation for launch of the Artemis I mission, the first moon mission in nearly 50 years.

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NASA and Boeing Targeting August/September for Starliner’s Uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BOEING OFT-2 MISSION UPDATE

NASA and Boeing are targeting August/September for the launch of Starliner’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station and will evaluate options if an earlier launch opportunity becomes available. The current schedule is supported by a space station docking opportunity and the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Eastern Range.

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Boeing Statement on SLS Core Hot Fire

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk, left, and Rick Gilbrech, director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center, right, watch as the core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket undergoes a second hot fire test in the B-2 Test Stand, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for the full-duration of 8 minutes during the test and generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Mississippi, March 18, 2021 (Boeing PR) — Deep space exploration took an important step forward today. The cryogenic core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket completed hot fire testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center as part of the SLS rocket’s Green Run test campaign on the B-2 test stand. The test, which included a full-duration, eight-minute engine burn, demonstrated successful core stage operation and will be used to help certify the stage for flight.

“I want to thank the extraordinary individuals who make up the NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing teams who designed, developed, produced and tested the all-new SLS core stage to enable sustainable human exploration of deep space,” said John Shannon, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager.

Space Station Hardware Developers, Payload Support Teams Celebrate Two Decades of Success, Prepare for Third

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducts a science experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox during Expedition 51 in 2017. The glovebox is one of 15 space station science hardware facilities managed for the agency by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Ask International Space Station facility engineers and payload operations teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, what makes them proudest as they look back on two decades of developing and testing science hardware and providing real-time support for experiments on orbit. Many will instinctively glance upward, as if the source of that pride might be passing overhead at that moment, 250 miles up.

Just as often though, they look to one another.

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NASA and Boeing Evaluating Launch Date for Orbital Flight Test-2

The Boeing Company unveils its fully outfitted CST-100 mock-up at the company’s Houston Product Support Center in Texas. This test version is optimized to support five crew members and will allow the company to evaluate crew safety, interfaces, communications, maneuverability and ergonomics. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing are evaluating a new target launch date for the CST-100 Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station after winter storms in Houston, and the recent replacement of avionics boxes, set the program back about two weeks. NASA also is weighing the volume of verification and validation analysis required prior to the test flight and the visiting vehicle schedule at the International Space Station.

Previously, the launch was targeted for no earlier than April 2.

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Green Run Update: NASA Investigating Valve Performance Before Second Hot Fire

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA’s is reviewing the performance of a valve on the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket before proceeding with a second hot fire test at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Boeing Delays Starliner Flight a Week to April 2

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Orbital flight test delayed from March 25

HOUSTON (BOEING PR) — Boeing continues to support NASA as it reviews flight readiness products and we prepare the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission to and from the International Space Station.

“We appreciate the significant work NASA is undertaking ahead of launch,” said John Vollmer, Starliner’s vice president and program manager at Boeing. “We’re fully engaged in the agency’s review process to ensure confidence in the spacecraft.”

With formal software tests completed, Boeing is continuing with flight preparations. We are ready to conduct a mission rehearsal, using flight hardware and final flight software, to ensure the readiness of the team and combined systems.

Hardware processing is also concluding. We recently moved the spacecraft into the Hazardous Processing Area in anticipation of propellant load. We continue to address final observations and have successfully replaced avionics units affected by a power surge during final checkouts. We continue to ensure product safety of our spacecraft and we are addressing any emerging issues in a timely manner.

NASA and Boeing teams in Houston are now contending with widespread power outages and other winter storm-related impacts in the region. Despite this, the team remains focused on the safety and quality of the spacecraft and a successful launch no earlier than April 2.

Multiple ISS National Lab-Sponsored Microbial Research Investigations Presently Being Performed on the Orbiting Platform

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., February 9, 2021 (CASIS PR) – Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) are currently supporting two investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory that are focused on microbial research. The space station’s unique microgravity environment allows investigators to conduct fundamental research not possible on Earth that may yield valuable insights in the life sciences, ultimately leading to applications to benefit humans on Earth.

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NASA Weighs Options for Additional Crew Transportation for Spring Soyuz Mission to Space Station

Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docking at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A rotating crew of NASA and international astronauts have called the International Space Station home for more than 20 years. To ensure a consistent U.S. presence on the space station through the years, NASA has implemented safeguards to ensure crew transportation is always available. 

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Spaceport Upgrades Launch Kennedy Into Record-Setting Future

An aerial view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 13, 2021. The High Bay 3 in the VAB is where NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft will be stacked on top of the mobile launcher before it is rolled out atop crawler-transporter 2 to Launch Pad 39B for launch on the agency’s Artemis I mission. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

By Heather L. Scott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

As quickly as the crewed commercial rocket lifted off the launch pad and into the night sky, a new type of space race had begun.

The November 2020 launch of astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the first operational mission by a commercial company was the culmination of a new form of government and industry cooperation – an example of how vibrant and diverse American space activities have become.

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NASA, Boeing Test Crew Return and Recovery Procedures

Landing and recovery teams from Boeing and NASA take part in a crew landing dress rehearsal at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico in preparation for missions returning with astronauts from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Landing and recovery teams from Boeing and NASA recently completed a crew landing dress rehearsal at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, in preparation for missions returning with astronauts from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Starliner Orbit Flight Test 2 Now Targeted for NET March 25

The Orbital Flight Test Starliner being processed by technicians after return from White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is designed, built, tested and flown by a team committed to safely, reliably and sustainably transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The target launch date is enabled by an opening on the Eastern Range; the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket; steady progress on hardware and software; and an International Space Station docking opportunity.

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Green Run Update: Hot Fire Met Many Objectives, Test Assessment Underway

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — For the Green Run hot fire test on Jan. 16, NASA set out to acquire test data to support 23 detailed verification objectives. To satisfy the objectives, hot fire test data is used in combination with analysis and testing that has already been completed. These detailed verification objectives are used to certify the design of the Space Launch System rocket’s core stage.

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The Year of the Four Spaceships: Final Report

Crew Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight. (See 2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day)

With the disruption and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t the easiest year to get things done. Keeping that in mind, let’s see how the companies did in 2020. (Spoiler Alert: they came up a little short.)

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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