Following a series of issues over the last year with the Core Stage for the first flight of the Space Launch System rocket, the launch dates for both the EM-1 and EM-2 flights are beginning to align, with EM-1 now targeting No Earlier Than 15 December 2019 and EM-2 following on 1 June 2022. Additionally, the EM-3 flight has gained its first notional mission outline, detailing a flight to Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit to deploy the Hab module for the new Deep Space Gateway.
EM-1 & -2 gain realigned launch dates:
The first flight of any new rocket is bound to encounter design and initial production delays. And NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is been no stranger to those sort of anticipated effects.
Following a misalignment in the installation of the main welding machine at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), welding for the certification elements for the new SLS core stage Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tanks picked up.
As previously reported by NASASpaceflight.com, after the initial LH2 qualification tanks were welded, a change to the welding machine’s pin was made – a change that resulted in segment welds on the EM-1 LH2 flight tank being too brittle ...