The cargo aboard a train that pulled into Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida on June 15, travelled over 2,000 miles. Inside were two rocket boosters made by the Utah-based company, Northrop Grumman.
“Think of it as an engine, as a jet engine on an airplane. Only one that has many many more times more power and thrust,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president of Propulsion Systems at Northrop Grumman.
The rocket boosters will help launch NASA’s Artemis I spacecraft in November 2021.
“There’s one on each side, and each one is built up from five segments so big they can’t be shipped in one big piece,” said Precourt.
The rocket boosters are part of NASA’s brand-new Space Launch System, which will be the largest rocket ever flown, said Precourt.
This system is what will propel Artemis I’s unmanned spacecraft to orbit the moon. The next mission will send astronauts to stay on the moon’s surface and research it, and after that NASA’s plan is to go to Mars. For Precourt, this mission is an important milestone in space exploration.
“It was a game changer, frankly, for society, for the human planet, to see the earth rise of the Apollo 8 mission back in 1968 and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon,” said Precourt. “But the next game changer beyond proving to ourselves that we could actually get off the planet and go somewhere and survive, is to find life elsewhere, what does that mean to us?”
NASA named the mission Artemis to mark its relationship to the first moon mission, because in Greek mythology, Artemis is Apollo’s twin sister. Precourt is a former astronaut himself, so the project has special meaning for him.
“I feel like I’m giving back because I’m working in an industry where we’re producing the next level of capabilities for the younger generation to pick up the torch and keep running,” said Precourt.
Precourt says the Artemis mission has the power to inspire a new generation of astronauts.