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NASA’s mighty moon rocket completes its gentlest mission

For such a powerful piece of machinery, it’s incongruous to see NASA’s SLS moon rocket taking a leisurely barge trip. The space agency used the enormous Pegasus barge to transport its 212-foot-tall (64.6 meters), 27.6-foot-diameter (8.4 meters) core stage booster from the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where it underwent testing,…


For this powerful piece of machinery, it is incongruous to see NASA’s SLS moon rocket carrying a leisurely barge excursion.

The space agency utilized the huge Pegasus barge to transport its 212-foot-tall (64.6 meters), 27.6-foot-diameter (8.4 meters) core stage booster from the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where it underwent testing, to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Artemis I launch preparations.

Relying on barge power rather of its awesome RS-25 motors, the SLS rocket traveled 900 miles across both inland and ocean waterways aboard the 310-foot-long (94.5 meters) boat, using a experienced team from Center Operations at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama, overseeing the delicate operation.

A movie (top) submitted this week indicates the rocket on its way to Kennedy Space Center, also includes the Pegasus crew referring to their work.

NASA has always used barges to move big spaceflight hardware from testing and manufacturing centers to establish websites at Kennedy.  Due to this SLS rocket’s large size — it is the longest thing ever shipped by a NASA barge — the space agency needed to carry out design changes to Pegasus.

“Pegasus was specially designed and built in 1999 to transport the giant external tanks of the space shuttles from the Louisiana shore to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the eastern coast of Florida,” NASA says on its website, adding that the vessel”replaced Poseidon and Orion, barges that were used to carry Saturn rocket stages and hardware for the Apollo Program. Pegasus completed its final space shuttle-related voyage in 2011.”

Now that it’s reached its destination, the center point will soon combine the two solid rocket boosters within a facility where it will be assembled to make the final SLS launch vehicle.

The SLS core phase recently completed successful test fires to ensure the integrity and performance of the moon-bond rocket. NASA is now focused on its highly expected Artemis I assignment, set to take place in the autumn. The crewless mission will demand the SLS rocket launching the Orion capsule to space, in which it will undertake a fly-by of the moon before returning to Earth. If this goes to plan, the Artemis II assignment will launch a team of four astronauts on a fly-by of this moon, together with Artemis III attempting a crewed lunar landing before the end of this decade.

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