NASA has completed major welding for the liquid hydrogen tank for the first Space Launch System mission at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
The tank was the final piece of flight hardware completed for the deep-space rocket’s first mission.
The next step will be outfitting the pieces with plumbing, wiring, avionics, orange foam for thermal protection, and four RS-25 main engines left over from the space shuttle program.
The five components will be assembled to create the 212-foot-tall (64-meter) core stage.
“The majority of work on NASA’s new deep space exploration systems is on track,” NASA said in a statement.
“The agency is using lessons learned from first time builds to drive efficiencies into overall production and operations planning.” Officials have established new production performance milestones to ensure the quality of future SLS core stage builds, and NASA and ESA have re-planned the schedule for the Orion service module to account for late deliveries.
The SLS main stage also comprises a liquid oxygen tank, an aft engine section, an intertank section and a forward skirt.