PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – It takes a big barge to move a big rocket. A key piece of hardware for NASA’s Artemis moon rocket floated into Kennedy Space Center Tuesday evening in the final stages of its journey from the Gulf Coast.
The Space Launch System, or Artemis rocket, core stage was transported on the Pegasus barge to Florida after a successful green run test in Mississippi at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.
The SLS core stage booster, built by Boeing, contains the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, along with four RS-25 engines as well as the computers that serve as the “brains” of the rocket.
The Pegasus floated into Port Canaveral around noon Tuesday escorted by tug boats. The massive barge was visible from Jetty Park as it came into view and into the port.
Towed by tug boats Pegasus was then pulled through the port and into the Banana River.
The core stage continued over a few hours making its way to Kennedy Space Center where it arrived Tuesday around 6 p.m. at the Turning Basin in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building.
In the coming days, the core stage will be off loaded and stacked with the rest of the rocket inside the Vehicle Assemble Building.
The 212-foot core stage along with the SLS rocket boosters produce more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust. SLS is NASA’s rocket that will launch humans back to the moon as soon as 2024.
The first launch known as Artemis-1 from Kennedy Space Center could happen as soon as late this year. The rocket will blast off carrying the Orion spacecraft on an uncrewed mission around the moon to test its capabilities.
Use the form below to sign up for the ClickOrlando.com space newsletter, sent every Wednesday afternoon.