NASA’s Space Launch System Gets Tentative Launch Date of August 29th

NASA has announced tentative placeholder launch dates for its beast of a rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), on its maiden flight to deep space. While work still needs to be accomplished to ensure its launch, the tentative dates are currently August 29th, September 2nd, and September 5th. While NASA stressed these are not set dates, the announcement nonetheless puts SLS closer than ever to flight.

The maiden launch of the most powerful rocket ever built comes after years of budget increases and delays. Funding for SLS was approximately $1.5 billion in 2011 but has increased almost every year until it hit $2.5 billion in 2021. This came after Congress mandated SLS “operational capability…not later than December 31, 2016”, but has faced countless delays since then due to audits and poor management.

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NASA Says It’s Satisfied With Rehearsal for SLS Moon Rocket Launch

SLS and Orion at launch pad
A full moon looms over NASA's Space Launch System and its Orion capsule at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B. (NASA Photo / Ben Smegelsky)

NASA says it’s finished with having to do full-scale dress rehearsals for the first liftoff of its moon-bound Space Launch System rocket. But it’s not finished with having to make fixes.

“At this point we’ve determined that we’ve successfully completed the evaluations and the work that we intended to complete for the dress rehearsal,” Thomas Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, told reporters today.

NASA’s assessment came after a dress rehearsal that reached its climax on June 20 with the loading of the 322-foot-tall rocket’s supercooled propellant tanks. The rehearsal, which followed some less-than-fully-successful trial runs in April, marked a milestone for launch preparations because it was the first time that the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida had fully loaded all of the tanks and proceeded into the terminal launch countdown.

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NASA is Having a Tough Time Testing the SLS

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) has been having some problems getting tested since it rolled out onto launch pad 39B last month. These tests, called wet dress rehearsals, are used to find any problems with loading the propellant and verify that all of the rocket’s systems are able to handle it being exposed to cryogenics.

After this most recent attempt on April 14th, it is clear that the SLS isn’t ready for flight yet. The problems that the teams have been encountering have led them to make some procedural changes and slight adjustments in operations and software triggers. There are also the leak problems that have shown up that have to be addressed.

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Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder Provides the Music for NASA's new SLS Video

For fans of Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam, and space exploration, this video will require very little explanation. But just in case some people haven’t seen it yet, this musical performance was a tribute to the long-awaited roll-out of the fully-stacked Space Launch System (SLS) at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It’s guaranteed to give you goosebumps and maybe even bring a tear to your eye!

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Now That is a Big Rocket. Space Launch System Rolls out to the Launch pad for a Series of Tests

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen illuminated by spotlights atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Friday, March 18, 2022, after being rolled out to the launch pad for the first time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Under the full Moon, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket rolled out to the launchpad for the first time. The journey began at the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, with the gigantic stack of the mega rocket arriving at Launch Pad 39B in preparation for a series of final checkouts before its Artemis I test flight.

The four-mile trip for SLS and the Orion spacecraft, on top of the crawler-transporter took 10 hours and 28 minutes, and the 3.5-million-pound rocket and spacecraft arrived at the pad at 4:15 a.m. on March 18.

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LEGO Releases the new Rocket Launch Center set, Recreating the Artemis Moon Missions

One way to inspire kids to get interested in STEM is to introduce them to it at an early age.  Lego is one of the best gateways to that interest, and the company has been busy churning out space-themed toys for most of its existence.  Now another entry has joined that long, distinguished line of interlocking brick system designs – the Rocket Launch Center, #60351.

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According to a US Auditor, Each Launch of the Space Launch System Will Cost an “Unsustainable” $4.1 Billion

This will likely come as a surprise to no one who has closely watched the development of NASA’s next giant rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), but it’s going to be expensive to use.  Like, really expensive – to the tune of $4.1 billion per launch, according to the NASA Inspector General.  That’s over double the original expected launch cost.

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NASA is Letting People Fly Their Name Around the Moon With Artemis 1

The Artemis program will send the "first woman and next man" to the Moon by 2024. Credit: NASA

Here’s your chance to participate in NASA’s return to the Moon with the Artemis program!

NASA is inviting people to submit their names to be included on a flash drive that will be sent along with Artemis I, an uncrewed test flight that kicks off the space agency’s plans to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

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New Images of Artemis in the VAB; Rollout for SLS Launch Rehearsal Test Now Scheduled for March 17

The stack of the Space Launch System rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. Credit and copyright: Alan Walters, for Universe Today.

Every journey begins with a single step, and the first step of NASA’s return to the Moon begins with a four-mile rollout to the launchpad. NASA announced their target date for rolling out the Space Launch System rocket for the four-mile crawl to the launch pad is March 17. The full rocket stack will spend about a month at the pad undergoing several tests before heading back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. If all goes well with the tests, NASA hopes to launch its uncrewed Artemis test flight, likely by early summer.

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The Space Shuttle was Originally Hoped to be a Fully Reusable two-Stage Rocket

For anyone old enough to remember the 1980s, the Space Shuttle was an iconic symbol of spaceflight. For thirty years (1981-2011), this program flew 135 missions, which consisted of orbital science experiments, deploying satellites, launching interplanetary probes, participating in the Shuttle-Mir program, deploying the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and constructing the International Space Station (ISS). There were also tragedies along the way, such as the Challenger (1986) and Columbia disasters (2003).

But here’s an interesting and little-known fact: the actual design of the Space Shuttle could have been entirely different. Rather than the reusable Space Transportation System (STS) and expendable external tank (E.T.) and solid rocket boosters (SRB) we all remember, there was also a concept for a fully-reusable two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane (DC-3). In a lovely video by spaceflight animator Haze Gray Art (YouTube handle Hazegrayart), viewers get a chance to see what a full take-off and landing would have looked like.

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