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NASA Readies Moon Rocket-to-Spacecraft Connector for Assembly.

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The components of NASA’s Artemis II mission, including the super-heavy lift SLS rocket, are in the last phase of preparation at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Orion stage adapter, a crucial component connecting NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the SLS rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), underwent rotation for diaphragm installation on Nov. 30.This milestone is a key step before the adapter is transported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where stacking and pre-launch activities for the 2024 mission will take place. The Super Guppy cargo aircraft will facilitate the shipment of these components.

Brent Gaddes, the lead for the Orion stage adapter in the Spacecraft/Payload Integration & Evolution Office for the SLS Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, explained the crucial role of the diaphragm. This composite, dome-shaped structure plays a vital function by isolating the volume above the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) from that below the Orion spacecraft. Acting as a barrier, the diaphragm prevents the accumulation of highly flammable hydrogen gas that could escape from the rocket’s propellant tanks, ensuring the safety of the Orion spacecraft and its crew before and during launch.

Standing at five feet tall and weighing 1,800 pounds, the Orion stage adapter is a relatively compact yet crucial component of the formidable SLS rocket. Despite its size, the adapter plays a pivotal role in supporting the SLS, a rocket set to generate over 8.8 million pounds of thrust, propelling four Artemis astronauts inside the Orion spacecraft around the Moon. The entire manufacturing process of this adapter is carried out by dedicated engineering teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

As part of NASA’s ambitious Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, the SLS, in conjunction with Orion and the Gateway in lunar orbit, forms the backbone for deep space exploration. Notably, the SLS stands out as the sole rocket capable of launching Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission, emphasizing its pivotal role in advancing human exploration beyond Earth.

NASA Readies Moon Rocket-to-Spacecraft Connector for Assembly.

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