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The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Artemis I mission is the first integrated flight test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and ground systems. SLS and Orion launched at 1:47 a.m. EST, from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center.

Space Launch System

Combining power and capability, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration and Artemis. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and cargo directly to the Moon in a single launch.

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Reference Guide

The SLS Reference Guide is the go-to source for information on the SLS rocket’s initial Block 1 configuration for NASA’s early Artemis missions, including its design, capabilities, major components, and manufacturing, testing, assembly, and launch activities. This document was initially prepared for Artemis I launch activities.

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NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket’s ICPS (interim cryogenic propulsion stage), with its single RL10 engine, produces 24,750 pounds of thrust to provide in-space propulsion for the agency’s Artemis II and III missions, the first crewed missions under Artemis. Like the mega rocket’s core stage, the ICPS uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to power its RL10 engine, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company. The ICPS is built by ULA (United Launch Alliance) and Boeing. In addition to providing in-space propulsion, the ICPS also contains avionics to fly the mission after core stage separation until NASA’s Orion spacecraft separates from the ICPS to venture to the Moon.


Space Launch System Block 1B in flight


Space Launch System Stages Manager Julie Bassler, right, celebrates the arrival of the SLS core stage by symbolically “passing the baton” to Exploration Ground Systems’ Senior Vehicle Operations Manager Cliff Lanham.