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NASA’s SLS Rocket With Boeing-Made Core Stage Launches as Part of Artemis I Mission

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A NASA rocket equipped with a Boeing-built core stage took off Wednesday from a launch complex at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send the unmanned Orion spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, on a maiden flight around the moon as part of the Artemis I mission.

Artemis I is an uncrewed flight test designed to assess the performance of the Space Launch System rocket and the capabilities of Orion, Boeing said Wednesday.

The core stage separated from the rocket’s upper stage less than 10 minutes after launch and demonstrated several functions, such as igniting the engines, actuating the hydraulic system and fueling both tanks.

The 212-foot-long core stage is composed of an engine section with four RS-25 engines, liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks and intertank section that links the two fuel tanks.

A team at Boeing is developing the core stages at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Core Stage-2 will be used to launch the first manned Artemis mission, while CS-3 is expected to support the mission meant to land astronauts on the lunar surface.

Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s space and launch division, said the launch reflects the availability of a “super-heavy lift launch capability” and that the company is ready to support NASA and its international partners in supporting manned missions to explore deep space.