Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage prime contractor Boeing reached a long-awaited milestone this week with completion of standalone work on the engine section for the first vehicle. The most complex section of NASA’s new rocket stage is well behind more than one schedule revision, and because it is the critical path in the schedule the delays have pushed some estimates for the vehicle’s first launch into 2021.
While the element proceeds immediately into the next phase of integration and testing with its boattail, a series of reviews of Core Stage production are being conducted by upper NASA management to speed up the schedule. Following last October’s Inspector General report, independent consultants were brought in to help with an internal assessment of how to address the report’s recommendations.
After NASA recently concluded the June, 2020 launch date commitment for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) was not achievable, one study was started to look at replacing SLS on EM-1, while additional reviews were started to look for more aggressive ways to compress the SLS schedule to its first launch.
Standalone engine section work completed
The engine section was moved on March 20 from its integration area in Building 103 at the Michoud Assembly ...