Bechtel yesterday started building the Mobile Launcher 2 project at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for Nasa’s Artemis mission to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
It began bolting together the first pieces of steel that will become the foundation of the structure.
The new launcher, to be designed, built, and tested by Bechtel, will reach some 390 feet in height.
It must withstand extreme conditions including temperatures of around 1,200°C (2,200°F), blast pressures of more than 130 psi, and thrust of more than 8.9 million pounds during the launch of Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS) rockets.
In the coming months, specially blasted and coated steel trusses and girders will arrive at the site.
Bechtel project manager Felice Presti said: “It is incredible to see the complex designs of my Bechtel colleagues come together in this new, innovative structure that will support the SLS rocket and Nasa’s Artemis mission to further deep space exploration.”
The company noted that the SLS rocket will adapt to meet the demands of each mission; it is designed to evolve as necessary to carry the Orion spacecraft, four astronauts, and their support equipment to the Moon.
Bechtel said it has so far procured around $100m in goods and services from the local area, and some $425m from around the US.