The Cape Canaveral Space Force Station has received the first piece of flight hardware from United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Decatur facility which will be utilized in NASA’s Artemis II mission to return Americans to the moon.
The hardware, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), provides the in-space propulsion necessary to send the Orion capsule and its crew to the moon. NASA’s Artemis II will be the first crewed mission of NASA’s Artemis lunar missions. It will also be the second flight of the Boeing-built Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, a program headquartered at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Boeing and ULA, the stage’s contractor team, shipped the ICPS from where it was constructed at ULA’s Decatur-based operations to the company’s Delta IV Operation Center in Florida, where it will undergo additional inspection prior to being transported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations.
Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, touted the role the rocket manufacturer holds in supporting NASA’s ambitious lunar exploration mission.
“ULA is honored to contribute to NASA’s Artemis program by supplying the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage for the initial flights of the Space Launch System (SLS),” said Wentz. “ICPS-2 will place Orion on the required trajectory for its crewed test flight around the Moon.”
The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), built by ULA under a collaborative partnership with @BoeingSpace for @NASAArtemis II, the first crewed mission of @NASA's lunar exploration program, arrived in FL from the ULA rocket factory in AL. Read more: https://t.co/OYyFu2f9KL pic.twitter.com/rnSd2bCKH1
— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 18, 2021
The company says the ICPS is built by ULA under a collaborative partnership with Boeing to serve as the upper stage of SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket. It is the interim upper stage solution for the first three launches until the Boeing-made Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) is ready.
The ambitious undertaking by the private sector further cements North Alabama’s crucial role in not only space exploration but making history by fulfilling NASA’s goal in landing the first female and person of color on the lunar surface. In addition, NASA’s Artemis mission will set the United States on a path to long-term space exploration at the moon in preparation for human missions to Mars.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL