The NASA SLS rocket’s boosters burn at around 3000 degrees fahrenheit / 1649 celsius, so it’s no surprise the mobile launcher that supports the rocket on the ground took some damage. Here’s what it looked like the afternoon of the 16th following the launch:
One thing I noticed at the NASA press site was that the launch tower definitely had a color change after the rocket blasted off earlier that morning. NASA released some images this afternoon that details the more notable damage the tower took at liftoff:
This area is where the rocket boosters take off from – there was some definite damage around the area but nothing critical that can’t be repaired in time for the second SLS flight for Artemis II.
This next photo is likely why it took so long for NASA’s ground teams to clear the area around the pad – the elevator doors for the launch tower blew out due to the massive pressure during launch! This prevented a quick inspection of the launch tower’s overall condition.
But at a press conference held this evening NASA officials said the hardware is working exceptionally well with just a few “funnies” the team are tracking. They currently have more fuel than they anticipated remaining after their recent burn to whip around the moon and they’re generating more power and using less than anticipated.
There’s still a lot of time left in the mission but if things keep tracking this well a crewed flight around the moon won’t be far behind.