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Douglas Loverro: NASA On Track for SLS Inaugural Flight in 2021

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Douglas Loverro
Douglas Loverro

Douglas Loverro, associate administrator of NASA’s human exploration and operations mission directorate, said the agency is confident that the Space Launch System’s first flight will push through in November 2021, Spaceflight Now reported Friday.

NASA is currently preparing the launch system’s Boeing-built core stage for test-firing activities at the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

According to Loverro, NASA plans to resume work on the facility’s B-2 test stand in a few weeks to support “green run” testing after the agency terminated operations in March due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It won’t be at full speed, but it will be done in a safe manner so we can protect our Boeing and NASA workers down there,” said Loverro. “And we will work on the engine section, we’ll work on the thermal protection system. Each element will be started when we have the plans and the gear ready to protect those workers.”

The SLS inaugural flight is designated as Artemis I and will send an uncrewed Orion capsule to lunar orbit. The second Artemis mission is scheduled for late 2022 or early 2023, while Artemis 3 is aimed at sending humans to the moon by 2024.