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NASA Launcher Out For Test Drive

NASA/Cory Huston
A swing test of the Orion crew access arm, topmost umbilical, is in progress on the mobile launcher at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Aug. 21, 2018. The crew access arm is located at about the 274-foot level on the mobile launcher tower. It will rotate from its retracted position and interface with the Orion crew hatch location to provide entry to the Orion crew module. Exploration Ground Systems extended all of the launch umbilicals on the ML tower to test their functionality before the mobile launcher, atop crawler-transporter 2, is moved to Launch Pad 39B and the Vehicle Assembly Building.

NASA’s mobile launch pad is on the move. Engineers are testing the pad ahead of the first mission of the SLS rocket.

The 11 million pound mobile launcher was moved from Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to pad 39B where ground system engineers are testing the fit.

NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, will be assembled in the VAB on top of the mobile launcher. Then, a massive vehicle called the Crawler-Transporter 2 will move the pad and the rocket to the launch site at a speed of about .7 miles per hour.

After a fit check, the crawler and pad will head back to the VAB to test more of the pad’s systems and the building’s upgrades.

NASA is targeting the first launch of SLS for 2020, when it will send the Orion space capsule on a trip around the moon.

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to Central Florida in 2005 to attend the University of Central Florida. He began working at WMFE as a college intern where he discovered his love for public radio.