Rocket science isn’t easy. Rockets are basically complex systems of other complex systems that all have to work together perfectly. Also, they’re highly explosive. So creating a brand new rocket can take a while. It’s careful and methodical work.
Take SLS, or the Space Launch System. (Yeah, I know it’s a terrible name. That’s not under my control, though.) SLS is going to replace the retired Space Shuttle. It will loft humans and spacecraft into low earth orbit and beyond.
SLS was funded starting in late 2010 and it’s first uncrewed test flight called Artemis 1, as of this writing, is scheduled to launch in late 2020. A lot of smart people will argue about why it took so long and who is at fault. But a lot of that time is simply due to the fact that rocket science isn’t easy.
All that to say, by the time the actual rocket arrives at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida from the factory at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, there won’t really be any time to spare. All the equipment and facilities and personnel at KSC will need to be ready to support. So we’ve been testing and rehearsing and practicing.
NASA has even built an Iron Rocket called the SLS Core Stage Pathfinder to practice with and to verify and certify all of our facilities, our equipment, and our processes and personnel. It arrived recently onboard a barge … the same barge that will deliver the real core stage.
Since it’s arrival, we’ve performed and practiced several different types of operations with this Iron Rocket inside the giant Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). These pretty awesome 360 degree videos show us lifting it up inside the VAB and then lowering it down into its resting place on the mobile launcher. Unless you’re watching these videos with a Virtual Reality rig, just click and drag your mouse to change the point of view! It feels like you are right there inside the VAB with the workers!
Thanks for your interest!