NASAs new Vertical Assembly Center (VAC), a 170-foot-high marvel of machinery that will be used to assemble elements of the agency's Space Launch System (SLS), now is complete and ready to weld parts for the rocket that will send humans to an asteroid and Mars. Media was invited to join NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the ribbon cutting for the enormous new tool at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans where the core stage is being built. Bolden and other officials from NASA and Boeing, the prime contractor for the SLS core stage and avionics participated in the ceremony.
The Vertical Assembly Center will be used to join domes, rings and barrels segments to complete the SLS fuel tanks. The tool also will be used to perform evaluations of the completed welds. Towering more than 200 feet tall, with a diameter of 27.6 feet, the core stage will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to feed the vehicles RS-25 engines.