NASA has taken further steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket thrusters to support up to six additional flights, for a total of up to nine Artemis missions. The agency continues to work with Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, the current prime contractor for the solid rockets that will launch the first three Artemis missions , including the mission that will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024. Under this contract, with a potential value of $ 49.5 million, NASA will provide seed funding and authorization to Northrop Grumman to order lead items to support the construction of the twin reinforcements for the next six SLS flights. Northrop Grumman will be able to make purchases as the full contract details are finalized within the next year. The full contract is expected to support production and booster operations for flights SLS 4-9. The contract execution period is 150 days; The final contract will run until December 31, 2030.
“This initial step ensures that NASA can build the necessary reinforcements for future SLS rockets that will be necessary for the Artemis missions to explore the Moon,” said John Honeycutt, director of the SLS Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. in Huntsville, Alabama. “The contract allows us to purchase lead materials in time to make reinforcements for the fourth flight.” The solid twin rocket boosters, which are mounted on the side of the central SLS platform, will produce more than 75% of the thrust for each SLS launch. The thrusters were based on the design of the space shuttle’s solid rocket thrusters, but include a fifth segment to produce the additional power needed to send the largest SLS rocket into space.
“We are ready to process and stack the reinforcements for the Artemis I mission, and we are making great progress producing reinforcements for the Artemis II and III missions,” said Bruce Tiller, director of the SLS reinforcement office in Marshall. ” NASA is committed to establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, and this action enables NASA to have reinforcements ready when needed for future missions.” Northrop Grumman has delivered the 10 solid rocket booster segments to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There they will be stacked with other reinforcement components equipped at Kennedy and ready for launch. The launch is complete for the Artemis II solid rocket engine segments and is underway for the Artemis III crew lunar landing mission.