New York: NASA is reportedly staging an elaborate dress rehearsal with its massive new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) — practising all of the major steps the agency will have to perform when the vehicle launches for the very first time.
It is a major milestone for the rocket’s development and one of the last major tests it must undergo before the vehicle can be cleared to fly sometime this summer, reports The Verge.
The SLS is the agency’s new flagship rocket, designed to carry people and cargo into deep space. It is meant to play a lead role in NASA’s Artemis programme, the agency’s initiative to send the first woman and the first person of colour to the Moon by the mid-2020s.
Capable of lifting nearly 60,000 pounds of cargo to orbits beyond the Moon, SLS is designed to launch NASA’s new crew capsule called Orion, which will carry future astronauts bound for the lunar surface.
But before all that can happen, SLS just needs to launch. Its first flight, called Artemis I, is also something of a rehearsal, the report said.
The rocket will launch Orion — without any crew inside — on a four- to six-week-long mission around the Moon, showcasing the vehicle’s capabilities. But before that can happen, NASA wants to go through all the steps leading up to launch, what is known as a wet dress rehearsal.