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Upper Stage Propulsion System for Future Artemis Mission Reaches Major Milestone

While the Artemis I team prepares for its upcoming mission, NASA and contractor teams are already building rockets to support future Artemis Moon missions. In United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) factory in Decatur, Alabama, major components have been completed for the Artemis III interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) that will provide the power to send astronauts to the Moon. The ICPS, which is built by ULA under a collaborative partnership with Boeing, provides in-space propulsion for the Orion spacecraft after the solid rocket boosters and core stage put SLS into an Earth orbit, and before the spacecraft is flying on its own.

The liquid hydrogen tank is built, and soon it will be mated to the intertank that connects it with the liquid oxygen tank. The intertank is comprised of composite-material truss structures in an X design. The eight bottles around the perimeter of the trusses store helium used to pressurize the stage’s propellant tanks. The liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks provide propellant for a single RL10 engine built by Aerojet Rocketdyne in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Artemis III ICPS will provide the big push needed to propel Orion toward the Moon and send the crew on the first mission where humans once again will land on the lunar surface.

Image Credits: United Launch Alliance