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Boeing announced that the upper phase of research (EUS) for NASA’s space launch system (SLS) has undergone a critical design revision (CDR).
The milestone confirms that the EUS design meets the requirements for future missions in deep space environments and ensures the safety of astronauts.
The EUS’s main supplier, Boeing, began factory activities to support the development of the first EUS.
It will manufacture and assemble the upper phase at NASA’s Michoud assembly plant in New Orleans.
The EUS will power the SLS rocket in early flight until it is taken over by the upper stage.
Using staged propulsion, the rocket will support the launch of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, an astronaut and supply to the Moon and beyond.
EUS Boeing Program Manager Steve Snell said: “NASA’s SLS Block 1B with EUS is capable of sending astronauts and the necessary supporting cargo to the Moon and beyond.
“EUS has been designed for manned flights from the beginning, and the additional lifting capability that comes with EUS requires fewer flights to enable a lasting human presence in deep space sooner and more securely.
“The moon is 238,000 miles away from Earth, and the nearest Mars is 35 million miles away. Transporting crews on the fewest flights, for shorter durations, is the safest approach to human space travel.
“Only the SLS that launches the EUS can carry Orion, along with the necessary mission load, one launch to the Moon – or beyond.”
Powered by a temporary cryogenic propulsion phase of the Boeing / United Launch Alliance and a single RL-10 engine, the Block 1 variant of the SLS will take the unfolded Orion spacecraft on a test flight to the Moon.
Nasa wants to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program.
Last month, NASA completed the installation of three spacecraft launch panels in Orion’s European service module.