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NASA Photographers Share Their Favorite Photos of the SLS Moon Rocket

NASA Photographers Share Their Favorite Photos of the SLS Moon Rocket

NASA Photographers Share Their Favorite Photos of the SLS Moon Rocket

The full Moon shines on the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft at sunset.ALT

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and in final preparations for the Artemis I mission to the Moon. Now that our Moon rocket is almost ready for its debut flight, we wanted to take a look back at some of the most liked photographs of our SLS rocket coming together over the years.

We asked NASA photographers to share their favorite photos of the SLS rocket for Artemis I at different phases of testing, manufacturing, and assembly. Here are their stories behind the photos:

Crews move the intertank structural test article for the SLS rocket to test facilities.ALT

“On this day in March 2018, crews at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, transported the intertank structural test article off NASA’s Pegasus barge to the Load Test Annex test facility for qualification testing.” —Emmett Given, photographer, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Teams guide the liquid oxygen tank structural test article for SLS off the Pegasus barge.ALT

“This is the liquid oxygen tank structural test article as it was moved from the Pegasus barge to the West Test Area at our Marshall Space Flight Center on July 9, 2019. The tank, which is structurally identical to its flight version, was subsequently placed in the test stand for structural testing several days later. I remember it being a blazing hot day!” —Fred Deaton, photographer, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

A technician at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility fastens a bolt to the core stage for the SLS rocket.ALT

“The large components of the SLS rocket’s core stage can make you forget that there are many hands-on tasks required to assemble a rocket, too. During the mating of the liquid hydrogen tank to the forward section of the rocket’s 212-foot-tall core stage in May 2019, technicians fastened 360 bolts to the circumference of the rocket. Images like this remind me of all the small parts that have to be installed with care, expertise, and precision to create one huge Moon rocket. Getting in close to capture the teammates that work tirelessly to make Artemis a success is one of the best parts of my job.” —Eric Bordelon, photographer, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

Technicians carefully line up one of the SLS rocket’s four RS-25 engines to the engine section, the bottom-most section of the core stage.ALT

“An incredible amount of precision goes into building a rocket, including making sure that each of our SLS rocket’s four RS-25 engines is aligned and integrated into the core stage correctly. In this image from October 2019, I attempted to illustrate the teamwork and communication happening as technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans do their part to help land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon through the Artemis missions. It’s rare to see the inside of a rocket – not as much for the NASA and Boeing engineers who manufacture and assemble a rocket stage!” —Jared Lyons, photographer, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

Employees at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility pose for a “family photo” as the completed SLS core stage departs the factory.ALT

“When the fully assembled and completed core stage left the Michoud factory in January 2020, employees took a “family photo” to mark the moment. Crews transported the flight hardware to NASA’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8 in preparation for the core stage Green Run test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. When I look at this photo, I am reminded of all of the hard work and countless hours the Michoud team put forth to build this next-generation Moon rocket. I am honored to be part of this family and to photograph historic moments like this for the Artemis program.” —Steven Seipel, MAF multimedia team lead, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

A sunrise illuminates the 212-foot-tall core stage of the SLS rocket as it is installed into the test stand.ALT

“This photo shows workers at Stennis prepare to lift the SLS core stage into the B-2 Test Stand for the SLS Green Run test series in the early morning hours of Jan. 22, 2020. I started shooting the lift operation around midnight. During a break in the action at about 5:30 a.m., I was driving my government vehicle to the SSC gas station to fuel up, when I saw the first light breaking in the East and knew it was going to be a nice sunrise. I turned around and hurried back to the test stand, sweating that I might run out of gas. Luckily, I didn’t run out and was lucky enough to catch a beautiful Mississippi sunrise in the background, too.” —Danny Nowlin, photographer, NASA’s Stennis Space Center

Crews guide the cone-shaped launch vehicle stage adapter of the SLS rocket onto NASA’s Pegasus barge.ALT

“I like the symmetry in the video as it pushes toward the launch vehicle stage adapter. Teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, loaded the cone-shaped piece of flight hardware onto our Pegasus barge in July 2020 for delivery to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The one-point perspective puts the launch vehicle stage adapter at the center of attention, but, if you pay attention to the edges, you can see people working. It gives a sense of scale. This was the first time I got to walk around Pegasus and meet the crew that transport the deep space rocket hardware, too.” —Sam Lott, videographer, SLS Program at Marshall Space Flight Center

The SLS core stage and its four RS-25 engines fire during the Green Run hot fire test.ALT

“This was my first time photographing a test at our Stennis Space Center, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have photographed big events like professional football games, but I wasn’t prepared for the awesome power unleashed by the Space Launch System’s core stage and four RS-25 engines during the Green Run hot fire test. Watching the sound wave ripple across the tall grass toward us, feeling the shock wave of ignition throughout my whole body, seeing the smoke curling up into the blue sky with rainbows hanging from the plume; all of it was as unforgettable as watching a football player hoist a trophy into the air.” —Michael DeMocker, photographer, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

BioSentinel fluidic cards with yeast show blue negative and pink positive growth.ALT

“When our SLS Moon rocket launches the agency’s Artemis I mission to the Moon, 10 CubeSats, or small satellites, are hitching a ride inside the rocket’s Orion stage adapter (OSA). BioSentinel is one of those CubeSats. BioSentinel’s microfluidics card, designed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, will be used to study the impact of interplanetary space radiation on yeast. To me, this photo is a great combination of the scientific importance of Artemis I and the human touch of more than 100 engineers and scientists who have dedicated themselves to the mission over the years.” —Dominic Hart, photographer, NASA’s Ames Research Center

The integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft roll out atop the mobile launcher from the Vehicle Assembly Building.ALT

“I was in the employee viewing area at Kennedy when the integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft was rolled out to the launchpad for its wet dress rehearsal in March 2022. I really like this photo because the sun is shining on Artemis I like a spotlight. The giant doors of the Vehicle Assembly Building are the red curtain that opened up the stage – and the spotlight is striking the SLS because it’s the star of the show making its way to the launchpad. I remember thinking how cool that NASA Worm logo looked as well, so I wanted to capture that. It was so big that I had to turn my camera sideways because the lens I had wasn’t big enough to capture the whole thing.” —Brandon Hancock, videographer, SLS Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

The integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission is stationed at the launchpad. ALT

“I made this image while SLS and Orion atop the mobile launcher were nearing the end of their four-mile trek to the pad on crawler-transporter 2 ahead of launch. Small groups of employees were filtering in and out of the parking lot by the pad gate to take in the sight of the rocket’s arrival. The “We Are Going!” banner affixed to the gate in the foreground bears the handwritten names of agency employees and contractors who have worked to get the rocket and spacecraft ready for the Artemis I flight test. As we enter the final days before launch, I am proud to have made my small contribution to documenting the historic rollout for this launch to the Moon.” —Joel Kowsky, photographer, NASA Headquarters

More Photo-worthy Moments to Come!

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B after being rolled out to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ALT

NASA photographers will be on the ground covering the Artemis I launch. As they do, we’ll continue to share their photos on our official NASA channels.

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