Production of NASA’s Orion spacecraft moving forward on Space Coast

It was a busy day for workers at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, as they continued their work on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will be used in the next moon mission. 

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik said even a pandemic can’t stop this. 

"We are really entering a new era of human spaceflight," said Bresnik."It is unbelievable that we can continue to make these types of milestones in the past year when we have been dealing with the virus. So this has been really a good time for our space program."

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The first steps of the Artemis program include stacking parts of the SLS rocket called the boosters and working on the Orion capsule, the "top hat" of the spacecraft. One day, the now empty capsule will transport the first woman and next man to our nearest neighbor: the moon. 

NASA said Orion "will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities."

The aft segments of the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters for the Artemis I mission prepare to move from high bay 4 inside NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for stacking on the mobile launcher inside hi

NASA is targeting November for the first launch of the uncrewed SLS Artemis I.

"This will be the first time we are launching the integrated spacecraft and rocket system. So lots of tests will be happening. I know I will be a little bit nervous. I know I will be really excited because we are counting on this test mission to then be able to launch crew on the next mission," said Cathy Koerner, the Orion program manager.

NASA aims to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Photo Credit: NASA)

"There is a lot of work to be done. We are just getting started," Bresnik said.

The U.S. is the only country to have placed astronauts on the moon, having last done so in December 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission. Only 12 men, all Americans, have set foot on the moon.

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