NASA and prime contractor Boeing have reworked the final assembly plan for the first Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage to bring the scheduled completion date back to the end of 2019.
With the engine section at the bottom of the rocket pacing the overall schedule into the middle of the year, changing the sequence of the last two major connections allows more work to be done on the rest of the rocket and reduces the list of tasks to complete when everything is joined together.
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The rest of the stage without the engine section will be connected horizontally in the next month at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. Connecting the top of the stage first forces the final connection with the engine section also to be done horizontally, and orphans a sequence of tasks that must be done completed the next time the stage is rotated to vertical.
The new plan should save several months of time versus the few weeks required to finish those last assembly tasks at the stage’s next destination.
NASA is still debating internally where Core Stage-1 (CS-1) will go when it ...