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NASA’s enormous Space Launch System rockets may be a white elephant gift or a gateway to the stars. The four structures that make up the core stage have now been completed and are ready to be integrated with the RS-25 engines. The Space Launch System and Aerojet Rocketdyne have now built 16 RS-25 engines. Next, a full-scale mockup of the SLS core stage will be tested at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The RS-25 engines. Image credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

Creating the liquid hydrogen tank marked a major step in the construction of the deep space rocket.

"To make these massive propellant tanks, NASA and our industry partner Boeing have used the largest robotic rocket welding tool to build the thickest pieces ever welded with self-reacting friction stir welding,” said Steve Doering, SLS stages manager at Marshall, on NASA’s website. "Now, we are moving from manufacturing major structures for the core stage to outfitting them to do their jobs and make the rocket fly.”

The mockup of the SLS core stage was transported from G&G Steel in Cordova, Alabama to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans by barge. Image credit: NASA MSFC Michoud image: Jude Guidry
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