Boeing completes first Space Launch System core stages

By Brittany Hill

NASA and Boeing have partnered on the production of 10 Space Launch Systems (SLS) core stages in additon to up to eight Exploration upper stages.

The SLS is NASA’s deep space exploration rocket that aims to launch a 27-metric ton, Orion crew vehicle – plus cargo – from Earth to the moon and eventually to Mars.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the rocket’s core stage, avonics and variations of the upper stage. The contract will leverage active labor, materials, facility resources and supply chain efficiencies for production savings.

"We greatly appreciate the confidence NASA has placed in Boeing to deliver this deep space rocket and their endorsement of our team’s approach to meeting this unprecedented technological and manufacturing challenge in support of NASA’s Artemis program,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch division.

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"Together with a nationwide network of engaged and innovative suppliers we will deliver the first core stage to NASA this year for Artemis I,” Chilton added. “This team is already implementing lessons learned and innovative practices from the first build to produce a second core stage more efficiently than the first. We are committed to continuous improvement as they execute on this new contract.”

The first SLS core stage was desiged, developed, tested and built by Boeing under the original NASA Stages contract, which included: refurbishing the manufacturing area at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), building test versions of the SLS structures and designing more efficient, modern tooling.

Boeing delivered the first upper stage last year which was built by United Launch Alliance. The more powerful Exploration Upper Stage design is in development.

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