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SLS contractors expect a first release in 2021



WASHINGTON – While NASA has not yet updated the timetable for the first flight of its spacecraft launch system, companies working on the heavy lift missile are now expecting the missile to launch in early 2021, not in 2020

of SLS, for a mission called Artemis 1, was formally scheduled for the second half of 2020, a date that was already two years late. That date is under review as NASA brings a new guide to its exploration programs following the re-appointment of former associate administrator Bill Gerstenmeyer and his deputy Bill Hill in July.

During a panel discussion on Aug. 19 at the American Aeronautics and Aerospace Institute's Indianapolis Propulsion and Energy Forum, executives with companies involved in SLS predict that based on what needs to be done for completion of the launch vehicle, this launch is unlikely to take place before the beginning of 2021

.

Jeff Fot, vice president of NASA programs at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, said he expected to work with the agency that decided to perform the test for the Green Run stationary fire on the main stage in Stennis Center next year, you won't be arriving at the Kennedy Space Center next year for this launch, until the end of 2020.

"From then on, with Orion integration, wet dress rehearsal and stuff like that, probably" two-quarters, maybe two-quarters and a half, or working to get to the date of commissioning, "he estimated." So, probably in early 2021, it could happen earlier, maybe it happened later. "

The milestone is the critical path to launch in a while It is due to problems with its engine section. Both NASA and Boeing now expect the main stage to be completed and ready to ship to Stennis by the end of the year.

"We'll probably fire her in the second or third quarter of next year and do a full test," Robert Broward, Boeing's integrated SLS Stage product group, said of the panel's Green Run test. " a long time to make rework and some improvements, and then put it on the towel and send it to the bow. "

Earlier this year, NASA said it was considering whether the Green Run test was necessary because its omission could to save a few months on schedule, however, NASA Administrator Jim Brides Nisteen announced on July 25 that NASA would continue with the test.

Bridenstein visited the Mitchud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where Boeing built the main scene on August 15, and said later that he was impressed with the progress we saw. "What I saw was absolutely eye-catching," he said during a separate event at the Marshall Space Flight Center on Aug. 16. He acknowledged the challenges in the motor section that delayed the completion of the milestone and NASA's efforts to bypass it by integrating the other parts first from the main stage.

According to him, this section of the engine is almost ready to be integrated to the rest of the main phase, which will be followed by its four RS-25 engines. He confirmed that work should be completed by the end of the year.

Bridenstein did not discuss the timetable for Artemis 1 in these remarks, but in July 17, testimony before the Senate Trade Committee suggested a first release in 2021, not 2020, was likely. "I think 2021 is definitely achievable" for this mission, he said at the time, but noted that he wanted to introduce a new guide to the agency's research program before setting a definite date.

The removal by 2021 does not necessarily delay the first crew of the SLS / Orion Mission, Artemis 2, now scheduled for 2022. "If Artemis 1 launches no later than mid-2021, there will be no impact on Artemis 2, "Bridenstein said in an email Aug. 3 to Sen. Mike Enzy (R-Wye.), who wrote to NASA Administrator a few days earlier about his concerns about spending and scheduling with SLS and other major programs of NASA.

"This is a realistic plan," Bridenstein added, "but I would like to have a new guide created and commit to an integrated schedule before committing to a date. “


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