Photos: SLS Hardware Created in Huntsville

Today we were able to see something that went from paper to production in only 20 months.

NASA offered us a last look at a key piece of Space Launch System (SLS) flight hardware before it departs to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for launch preparations.  

In the most basic sense it is a way to get 13 payloads (or little satellites) into space on the 2019 launch. Some of the tools used create this also worked on the Saturn V rocket! 

We got to see Orion stage adapter that will carry 13 small satellites and connect the SLS interim cryogenic propulsion stage to the Orion spacecraft on the first integrated test flight. We also were able to talk with people who helped bring this piece of hardware to life! 

The adapter, approximately 5 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter, was designed and built at Marshall with advanced friction stir welding technology. Inside the adapter, engineers installed special brackets and cabling for the CubeSats. The CubeSats, which are small science experiments, stay safely stowed inside the adapter until after Orion has separated from SLS. 

These boot-box-sized science and technology investigations will help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space.  The Orion stage adapter flight article recently finished major testing of the avionics system that will deploy the CubeSats. 

It will soon be packaged and sent to Kennedy on NASA’s Super Guppy airplane. Once the adapter arrives at Kennedy, technicians will install the secondary payloads, and engineers will examine the hardware before it is stacked on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage in the Vehicle Assembly Building before launch. 

For more information and resources about SLS, visit

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