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Inside the Rocket

Boeing welders complete weld processing inside the massive liquid hydrogen tank for NASA’s Space Launch System at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Once a tank is assembled on the Vertical Assembly Center (VAC), there are holes left from the process that must be plugged manually using friction heating and forge pressure, which produces high-strength bonds virtually free of defects. The process transforms metals from a solid state into a “plastic-like” state and uses a rotating pin tool to soften, stir and forge a bond between two metal sections to form a uniform welded joint.

The tank is under construction for first flight of the Space Launch System.