This really isn’t news: Work on the core stage for the first SLS rocket launch appears to face another three month delay, threatening the scheduled June 2020 launch date.
The article outlines in great detail the work being done on the SLS core stage, and where the delays might be coming from, while also being vague about what exactly is causing the delay.
It is unknown if the additional time for completion of final assembly of the whole rocket stage is based on the engine section, the other four elements, or continuing refinement of forward work. Most of the hardware and systems that will fly on EM-1 are being built for the first time and the procedures to connect the five pieces of the Core Stage together will also be attempted for the first time.
Of the five elements, the most recent news had the Forward Skirt near completion of its individual work by the end of the month. Work to cover the liquid oxygen tank with its Thermal Protection System (TPS) foam was in final phases, with the liquid hydrogen tank to follow behind it. The engine section and intertank elements continue to be outfitted with propellant lines, pressure tanks, avionics boxes, wiring, and other equipment.
Once complete, the elements will be assembled vertically in two stacks before a horizontal join of the halves of the rocket kicks off final assembly.
In fact, reading the article’s detailed description of the testing and assembly of SLS’s core stage struck me as incredibly slow-paced, so slow paced that it actually filled me with a sense of ennui. In the time they seem to need to only do an equipment review, SpaceX appears to have upgraded and flown a new version of its Falcon 9 first stage, while also redesigning a new core stage for its Falcon Heavy.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
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