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NASA Welds Confidence Article for Next Evolution of SLS Rocket for Artemis Missions

Technicians are manufacturing and testing the first in a series of initial weld confidence articles for the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) for future flights of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The Exploration Upper Stage will be used on the second configuration of the SLS rocket, known as Block 1B, and will provide in-space propulsion to send astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft and heavy cargo on a precise trajectory to the Moon. The Exploration Upper Stage weld confidence panels are first produced in the Vertical Weld Center at Michoud, then small sections of the panels are removed for mechanical testing and analysis in another area of the factory. Teams use weld confidence articles to verify welding procedures, interfaces between the tooling and hardware, and the structural integrity of the welds. Testing of the EUS weld confidence articles will help engineers and technicians validate welding parameters for manufacturing EUS hardware.

Lift of three EUS test panels in VWC at Michoud Assembly Facility on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

The first three SLS flights of NASA’s Artemis program will use an interim cryogenic propulsion stage with one RL10 engine to send Orion to the Moon. The SLS Exploration Upper Stage for flights beyond Artemis III has larger propellant tanks and four RL10 engines. The evolution of the rocket to SLS Block 1B configuration with EUS enables SLS to launch 40% more cargo to the Moon along with the crew. Manufacturing the Exploration Upper Stage is a collaborative effort between NASA and Boeing, the lead contractor for EUS and the SLS core stage.

SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission. The SLS rocket, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, Gateway, and human landing system are part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon to pave the way for sustainable exploration at the Moon and future missions to Mars. (NASA)