By Todd Stacy, Alabama Daily News
NASA announced Wednesday it would contract with Boeing to build the Space Launch System Artemis III core stage that will take humans back to the moon and set the stage for future missions to Mars.
The SLS is managed at the Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Boeing had already been working on the Artemis I and Artemis II mission core stages, and NASA’s decision ensures the company will continue its SLS work for the next decade. The full contract is expected to support up to 10 core stages and up to eight Exploration Upper Stages (EUS).
“These initial steps allow NASA to start building the core stage that will launch the next astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface and build the powerful exploration upper stage that will expand the possibilities for Artemis missions by sending hardware and cargo along with humans or even heavier cargo needed to explore the Moon or Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bredenstine.
We're full speed ahead to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. @NASA is taking the next steps to work with @BoeingSpace to build the @NASA_SLS rocket for #Artemis III and beyond. https://t.co/gFDNyC1cqy
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) October 16, 2019
“We greatly appreciate the confidence NASA has placed in Boeing to deliver this deep space rocket and their endorsement of our team’s approach to meeting this unprecedented technological and manufacturing challenge in support of NASA’s Artemis program,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch division.
Another step in the right direction for @NASA_SLS. Proud to see the collaborative work of @NASA & @BoeingSpace as they continue to build the powerful #SLS rocket that will take astronauts back to the Moon & eventually to Mars. https://t.co/RtPIhic05I
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) October 16, 2019
The Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, Gateway and Human Landing System are part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. The Artemis program is the next step in NASA’s broader Moon to Mars exploration approach, that seeks to eventually send astronauts to the Red Planet.
“The exploration upper stage will truly open up the universe by providing even more lift capability to deep space,” said Julie Bassler, the SLS Stages manager at Marshall. “The exploration upper stage will provide the power to send more than 45 metric tons, or 99 thousand pounds, to lunar orbit.”