An employee walks out from the core stage of the Space Launch System, which will power the Artemis 1 lunar mission, as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstinein tours the NASA Michaud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. Photo: AP
New Orleans, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — NASA's top official says the rocket expected to power the next mission to the moon is about 90 percent complete.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke during a visit Thursday to a facility in New Orleans where the core stage is being built.
The 212-foot-tall (65-meter-tall) core stage is made up of two liquid propellant tanks and four RS-25 engines.
In the months to come, the engine section will be attached to the rest of the core section. If all goes well, it will power the Artemis 1 test flight in 2020.
Plans call for the rocket to carry a crewless Orion capsule in a double loop around the moon during 25½ days in flight.
Future missions are expected to carry U.S. astronauts, including the first female astronaut to land on the moon.