NASA Barge Preparations Underway for Artemis II Rocket Stage Delivery

NASA/Eric Bordelon

Team members are installing pedestals aboard NASA’s Pegasus barge to hold and secure the massive core stage of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket, indicating NASA barge crews are nearly ready for its first delivery to support the Artemis II test flight around the Moon. The barge will ferry the core stage on a 900-mile journey from the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to its Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Pegasus crew began installing the pedestals July 10.The barge, which previously was used to ferry space shuttle external tanks, was modified and refurbished to compensate for the much larger and heavier core stage for the SLS rocket. Measuring 212 feet in length and 27.6 feet in diameter, the core stage is the largest rocket stage NASA has ever built and the longest item ever shipped by a NASA barge.

Pegasus now measures 310 feet in length and 50 feet in width, with three 200-kilowatt generators on board for power. Tugboats and towing vessels will move the barge and core stage from Michoud to Kennedy, where the core stage will be integrated with other elements of the rocket and prepared for launch. Pegasus is maintained at NASA Michoud.

NASA is working to land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, supporting ground systems, advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.

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