It took a lot longer than 60 seconds to weld the massive 130-foot rocket fuel tank. This time-lapse video shows the construction and rotation of the liquid hydrogen tank for the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket – the new heavy-lift rocket being built in the Vehicle Assembly Center at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. There are two views, looking down as the tank is assembled and then looking up.
The hydrogen tank comprises nearly two-thirds of the length of the 212-foot-long core stage and will help quench the thirst of the four RS-25 engines that, along with the twin solid rocket boosters, will launch the Orion spacecraft and carry crew to deep space destination and eventually Mars. This qualification tank will be moved to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for structural testing. Testing ensures the flight articles will be able to sustain the extreme forces experienced during launch. Tanks and other parts of the core stage that will be flown on the maiden flight of SLS and Orion are also under construction at Michoud.