The US space agency has spent a long, long time designing, developing, building, and researching the Space Launch System rocket. When NASA developed the rocket program in 2010, US legislators announced the SLS booster should be prepared to launch in 2016.
That liftoff target and many others have appeared and gone. However, now, after more than $20 billion in funding, NASA and its contractors are about to declare the 111-meter tall rocket prepared for its debut launch.
On June 20th, NASA successfully measured the rocket down to T-29 seconds during a pre-launch fueling trial. Although they did not surpass T-9 seconds, as per the real goal, the agency’s engineers obtained enough data to satisfy the requisite data to continue toward a launch.
During a couple of news conferences the previous week, NASA officials refused to set a launch target for the mission. Yet, in an interview on Tuesday with Ars, NASA’s senior exploration official, Jim Free, announced that “the agency is working toward a launch window of August 23 to September 6.”
“That’s the one we’re targeting,” Free said. “We’d be foolish not to target that right now. We made incredible progress last week.”
After this event, the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center for ultimate launch preparations, involving arming the flight termination procedure. A team of technicians and engineers will also reinstate a seal on a “quick disconnect” where a hydrogen leak was identified during fuel loading.