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Top NASA official gets look at next moon rocket

The core stage of the Space Launch System, which will power the Artemis 1 lunar mission, on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.

GERALD HERBERT/AP

By STACEY PLAISANCE | Associated Press | Published: August 15, 2019

NEW ORLEANS — NASA's top official says the rocket expected to power the next mission to the moon is about 90 percent complete.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke during a visit Thursday to a facility in New Orleans where the core stage is being built.

The 212-foot-tall core stage is made up of two liquid propellant tanks and four RS-25 engines.

In the months to come, the engine section will be attached to the rest of the core section. If all goes well, it will power the Artemis 1 test flight in 2020.

Plans call for the rocket to carry a crewless Orion capsule in a double loop around the moon during 25½ days in flight.

Future missions are expected to carry U.S. astronauts, including the first female astronaut to land on the moon.

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