After a successful wet dress rehearsal campaign, NASA rolled the massive Space Launch System rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to prepare for its Artemis 1 Moon mission.
Rollback occurred throughout the morning of July 2 with the crawler-transporter moving the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) rocket and its Mobile Launcher the four-mile (6.5-kilometer) trek from Launch Complex 39B to the VAB at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It took about 10 hours with the SLS being secured in the assembly building by about 2:30 p.m. EDT (18:30 UTC).
“Over the next several days, the team will extend work platforms to allow access to SLS and Orion,” NASA said in a July 2 update. “In the coming weeks, teams will replace a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical and perform additional checkouts and activities before returning to the pad for launch.”
The next time SLS emerges from the VAB, it is expected to be for the launch campaign for Artemis 1. The rocket is set to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the Moon on a multi-week mission to verify the SLS-Orion system is ready to fly people during Artemis 2, which itself is slated for no earlier than 2024.
SLS is expected to be in the VAB between six and eight weeks. Should the rocket be ready in time, it could fly the Artemis 1 mission as early as the late-August launch window, which runs from Aug. 23 to Sept. 6. There is another two-week window in late September.
Video courtesy of Orbital Velocity
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