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4 women spearheaded building the rocket stage set to launch the first woman to the Moon in 2024

The team of women has 90 years of combined experience in the aerospace and defense industries, according to NASA.
Credit: NASA
These images show how the team rolled out the completed core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Crews moved the flight hardware for the first Artemis mission to NASA’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8 in preparation for the core stage Green Run test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Pegasus, which was modified to ferry SLS rocket hardware, will transport the core stage from Michoud to Stennis for the comprehensive core stage Green Run test series. Once at Stennis, the Artemis rocket stage will be loaded into the B-2 Test Stand for the core stage Green Run test series. The comprehensive test campaign will progressively bring the entire core stage, including its avionics and engines, to life for the first time to verify the stage is fit for flight ahead of the launch of Artemis I. Assembly and integration of the core stage and its four RS-25 engines has been a collaborative, multistep process for NASA and its partners Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-25 engines lead contractor. Together with four RS-25 engines, the rocket’s massive 212-foot-tall core stage — the largest stage NASA has ever built — and its twin solid rocket boosters will produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon and, ultimately, Mars. Offering more payload mass, volume capability and energy to speed missions through space, the SLS rocket, along with NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit and Orion, is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration and the Artemis lunar program.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Behind the building and testing of the 212-foot-tall rocket stage that looks to bring the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024 are four women.

The prowess of stages element deputy manager Lisa Bates, Boeing Michoud production/operations manager Jennifer Boland-Masterson, NASA Stages element manager Julie Bassler and Boeing chief engineer Noelle Zietsman have brought the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket stage to life.

All-in-all, the group of women has 90 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industries, according to NASA.

Part of their work included managing the entire scope of design, development and testing and production of the "complex" core stage set to power the heavy-lift rocket and future lunar missions. 

The first core stage for NASA's Artemis I mission, an uncrewed test flight, is currently undergoing its "Green Run test series" at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The tests allow the agency to confirm the rocket's core stage is ready for future launches.

"Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight to test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon with the Artemis program," NASA wrote.

Through the Artemis program, NASA also looks to establish sustainable lunar exploration by the end of the decade. 

The 2024 mission would make history by putting the first woman on the Moon. That's a feat that was not accomplished between astronaut Neil Armstrong putting the first boots down to astronaut Harrison Schmitt becoming the last American to walk on the Moon in 1972.

During that timeframe, 12 men had the chance to step foot on the lunar surface.

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