The stacking and assembly of the first two solid rocket boosters for the first launch of SLS has been completed at Cape Canaveral.
The boosters, built by Northrop Grumman, now only wait for the arrival of Boeing’s core stage, which is still awaiting the successful completion of its final static test, now tentatively set for sometime in the next week or so.
Stacking of the boosters began in November 2020, which means that the first SLS launch must happen by November ’21 because the boosters have a limited life span of about a year. To make that November launch happen on time however is becoming increasingly difficult. Assuming the mid-March core static static fire test in Mississippi is successful, NASA will have to then ship the stage to Florida and get it assembled with those two boosters. NASA has previously said it will take about six months to do this. Their margin between now and November is thus getting quite tight.
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.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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