Artemis II Space Launch System rocket booster segments arrive at the Kennedy Space Centeron September 25. The 10 booster motor segments which will play a crucial role in propelling the Artemis II astronauts on their journey around the Moon were received by NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. These segments are set to comprise the twin, five-segment solid rocket boosters of the SLS rocket, responsible for generating over 75% of the total thrust during liftoff, enabling NASA's Artemis missions to reach the Moon.
Given their substantial weight, these 10 booster motor segments were transported via rail through eight states, using specialized transporters, to reach the spaceport. Currently, NASA's Exploration Ground Systems Program teams are gearing up to process each of these segments within the confines of the Rotation, Processing, and Surge Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Following this, the next step will involve integrating them within the Vehicle Assembly Building as part of the rocket assembly process.
The arrival of the SLS solid rocket booster motor segments is an important turning point as NASA and our Artemis partners begin readying for stacking and launch preparations for Artemis II. Fully stacked, these boosters for NASA’s SLS rocket are the largest, most powerful ever built for spaceflight and will help send the first astronauts around the Moon in more than 50 years.- Amit Kshatriya, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Moon to Mars Program Office at NASA Headquarters
The SLS solid rocket boosters, which are manufactured in Utah by Northrop Grumman, consist of three major assemblies, with the motor segment being the largest component. Inspection teams are tasked with examining these motor segments, along with the forward and aft skirt assemblies of the boosters.
Subsequently, the segments will be rotated to a vertical position in preparation for the stacking operations required for Artemis II. Notably, the top and bottom portions of the boosters had been previously assembled in the Booster Fabrication Facility at Kennedy.
Two trains delivering the 10 booster motor segments
Once the processing phase is concluded, specialized crews will transport each of the major segments individually to the Vehicle Assembly Building. There, they will be stacked together to create the towering 17-story-tall boosters that flank either side of the rocket.
Upon this accomplishment, engineers and technicians will proceed to integrate the rocket's core stage into the assembly. Collectively, the SLS rocket's twin boosters and the core stage's four RS-25 engines will generate an astonishing 8.8 million pounds of thrust.
Artemis II stands as the inaugural crewed mission within the Artemis program, designed to comprehensively test all systems of the Orion spacecraft. NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, will be on board for this mission, paving the way for subsequent lunar missions.
The two five-segment solid rocket boosters are essential for the initial 126 seconds of the mission, after which they will be jettisoned into the Atlantic Ocean.
Artemis 2 marks a significant milestone as the first human mission to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. This historic mission will pave the way for Artemis 3, expected to follow in a year or two, which is anticipated to culminate in the first crewed Moon landing of the 21st century. Notably, the maiden uncrewed test of the SLS-Orion system, Artemis 1, was successfully conducted in late 2022.