Media are invited to see full-scale Space Launch System test hardware ahead of stacking with other upper parts of the rocket at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the west test area at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for human missions to deep space with the Orion spacecraft, including the Journey to Mars.

The hardware is a test version of the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), which is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system that will give Orion the big, in-space push needed to fly beyond the moon before it returns to Earth on the first flight of SLS and Orion in late 2018. It will be stacked with other test articles and simulators that make up the upper portion of the SLS rocket ahead of a rigorous test series anticipated to begin in early 2017. The hardware will be pushed, pulled and twisted during testing to ensure each structure can withstand the incredible stresses of launch.

The ICPS test article, without the engine, is approximately 29 feet tall and 16.8 feet in diameter. It was designed and built by The Boeing Co. in Huntsville and its supplier, United Launch Alliance of Decatur.

NASA and contractor officials will be available for interviews. News media interested in attending should contact Kim Henry in Marshall’s Public & Employee Communications Office at 256-544-0034 no later than 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The initial SLS configuration will have a minimum 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capability and be powered by twin solid rocket boosters and four RS-25 engines. The next planned upgrade of SLS, Block 1B, will use a more powerful exploration upper stage for more ambitious missions with a 105-metric-ton (115-ton) lift capacity.

For more information on the SLS structural loads testing, visit: 

For more information on the ICPS test article move from ULA to MSFC, visit: