NASA, Boeing Complete Barrel Sections for Future SLS EUS Structural Test Article

Futuramic AdminNews

In a significant achievement for NASA’s Artemis program, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Boeing have successfully completed the manufacturing of the barrel sections or the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) structural test article for the SLS (Space Launch System). The completion of the barrel sections signifies a major accomplishment in the production of the core stage of the SLS, which serves as the backbone for NASA’s Artemis missions.

The barrel sections, manufactured by Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, are integral components of the core stage. Comprising of five major components – the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks, engine section, intertank and forward skirt – the barrel sections provide structural support and house the propellants needed for the rocket’s powerful engines.

Image credit: NASA / Michael DeMocker

“These images and show technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans examining and lifting midbody barrels for the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) structural test article of the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket in May 2023.

The barrel sections make up the body, or main structure, of the future in-space propulsion stage for the mega rocket. The Exploration Upper Stage will be used on the second configuration of the SLS rocket, known as Block 1B, and will provide in-space propulsion to send astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft and heavy cargo on a precise trajectory to the Moon. Beginning with Artemis IV, EUS will replace the interim cryogenic propulsion stage for the Block 1 configuration of SLS. It has larger propellant tanks and four RL10 engines, enabling SLS to launch 40% more cargo to the Moon along with crew.

EUS flight hardware is in early production at Michoud. Crews with NASA and Boeing, the lead contractor for the SLS core stage and EUS, are also manufacturing the EUS structural test article. The test hardware is structurally identical to the flight version and will be used during a series of strenuous testing that simulates the forces the rocket will experience during launch and flight and verify its structural integrity.
NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.” – via NASA Image and Video Library

Futuramic’s Barrel Panel Manufacturing Process

Image credit: NASA / Michael DeMocker

  • 8 panels per barrel.
  • Start as a flat sheet of aluminum ~ 2.5 – 3” thick.
  • Machined in the flat condition to 90% finished.  All ribs , openings are machined in the flat condition. This results in ~80% of the original material being machined off.
  • Segments are bump formed to final radius.
  • Heat aged, at Futuramic to final specified condition.
  • Return to mill in formed condition for final trim and final detailing.
  • Final Physical Inspection.
  • Send for Chemical Processing Surface Finishing.

This manufacturing process was developed by Futuramic and approved by Boeing and NASA.