Manufacturing the Future of Space Exploration

In 2010, President Obama challenged NASA to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and then on to Mars in the 2030s. To meet that challenge, NASA is building the Space Launch System (SLS) to launch humans in the agency's Orion capsule farther into the solar system than ever before.

But before the first launch of the largest rocket ever built happens in 2017, American companies are working to design, test and manufacture it.

ATK of Brigham City, Utah, is building five-segment solid rocket boosters that will help propel the 70-metric-ton version of the rocket off the planet. The Boeing Company of Huntsville, Ala., is building the SLS core stage that will house cryogenic fuel at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where more than a hundred external tanks were built for the shuttle program. That fuel will be routed to RS-25 engines built by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) of Canoga Park, Calif., which also served as the space shuttle's main engines during 135 missions.

PWR also is building the J-2X engine that will provide power to the SLS upper stage engine of an advanced version of the SLS rocket with a 130-metric-ton lift capability. And Aerojet of Sacramento, Calif., Dynetics Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., Northrop Grumman Corporation Aerospace Systems of Redondo Beach, Calif., and ATK are all working on advanced booster concepts and hardware that could be used on the advanced version of the rocket.

As we make progress on SLS, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is working closely with the Orion Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Source: NASA
Date: Feb 22, 2013