NASA´s Space Launch System program said it has completed its Critical Design Review, and major subsystems such as Orion´s launch abort system and the SLS RS-25 engines have recently completed successful testing.
These accomplishments bring America one step closer to deep space — preserving the nation´s leadership in human space exploration.
“The successes and milestones we are seeing are incredibly important steps in the development of NASA´s heavy-lift, deep space exploration vehicle,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager for Orbital ATK´s Propulsion Systems Division, and four-time space shuttle astronaut. “This rocket is the foundation of a very promising future for human spaceflight, and will take humans farther than we´ve ever gone before.”
This is the first time since the 1970s that NASA has completed CDR on a major new launch vehicle. Experts from NASA and industry validated that the SLS, as designed, meets all system requirements and is within cost and schedule constraints. It´s a ´go´ for production, assembly, integration and testing of the vehicle as a whole.
Four major industry players are building the SLS and Orion spacecraft for NASA´s crewed exploration missions that will travel beyond the moon and into deep space. Boeing (NYSE: BA) is designing, developing, producing and testing the rocket´s core and upper stage, as well as the avionics. Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA) provides the solid rocket boosters that supply more than 75 percent of the required thrust during the first two minutes of flight, and Aerojet Rocketdyne (NYSE:AJRD) provides the reliable, flight-proven RS-25 and RL-10 engines for the core and upper stage that carry SLS and Orion into orbit and on to deep space on the first flight of SLS. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is designing and building the Orion spacecraft, which will fly on top of SLS and into deep space.
EM-1 will be the first time the SLS is integrated with the Orion spacecraft and flies into space. The mission will send Orion into lunar distant retrograde orbit–a wide orbit around the moon that is farther from Earth than any human-rated spacecraft has ever traveled. The uncrewed mission will last more than 20 days and will prove the design and safety of Orion and SLS for human exploration missions to follow.