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NASA Teams Install Key Space Launch System Stage Separation Mechanism

Press Release From: Marshall Space Flight Center
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019

NASA and its industry partners continue their steady progress toward launching the nation's newest rocket, NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). Engineers and technicians at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, are integrating components with the SLS launch vehicle stage adapter, which connects the core stage of the world's most powerful rocket with its interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) that provides the power to send Orion to the Moon. One newly installed piece of hardware -- the frangible joint assembly -- is designed to break apart, allowing the hardware elements to separate during flight. When a remote command is given, pistons fitted inside the ring assembly push upward, instantaneously separating the upper part of the rocket from the adapter and core stage. 

Frangible joint assemblies are widely used in a variety of crewed and uncrewed spacecraft to efficiently separate fairings or stages during launch and orbital ascent and to execute payload deployment. Once the frangible joint assembly is mated with the launch vehicle stage adapter and its pneumatic actuation system is installed, Marshall SLS workers will ship the hardware to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where technicians will "stack" the vehicle for final flight preparation. NASA's Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft will pave the way for human missions to the Moon and Mars and groundbreaking new discoveries.

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