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One Step Closer: Orion Spacecraft Stacked on Top SLS Rocket for NASA’s Artemis I Mission

Credit: Frank Michaux

Teams with Exploration Ground Systems successfully lifted the Orion Spacecraft for the Artemis I mission inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on October 20, 2021. Teams attached the spacecraft to one of the five overhead cranes inside the building and began lifting it a little after midnight EDT. Next, teams slowly lowered it onto the fully stacked SLS rocket.

Lifting Orion Spacecraft

Final stacking operations for NASA’s mega-Moon rocket underway inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as the Orion spacecraft is lifted onto the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the Artemis I mission. Engineers and technicians with Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) and Jacobs attached the spacecraft to one of the five overhead cranes inside the building and began lifting it a little after midnight EDT on October 20, 2021. Credit: Chad Siwik

Work continued to fully secure Orion to the Orion Stage Adapter of the Space Launch System rocket after teams initially placed the spacecraft on top of the rocket earlier in the day. This operation required the EGS team to align the spacecraft perfectly with the adapter before gently attaching the two together and took several hours to make sure Orion was securely in place.

Artemis I Rocket Stack

Artemis I Space Launch System rocket with Orion capsule stacked on top. Credit: NASA

NASA will provide an update once stacking for the Artemis I mission is complete.


NASA teams across the country are preparing for the Artemis I launch to the Moon. When NASA’s mighty Space Launch System rocket launches to the Moon from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, its four RS-25 engines and two solid rocket boosters will produce more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust. The rocket’s flight software and avionics systems act as the brains behind that muscle to guide and steer the rocket beyond Earth’s orbit. Watch to learn more about the SLS rocket’s flight software and avionics systems. Credit: NASA

NASA’s Space Launch System will be the most powerful rocket they’ve ever built. When completed, SLS will enable astronauts to begin their journey to explore destinations far into the solar system.


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