NEW ORLEANS (AP) — NASA officials in New Orleans have publicly unveiled a new, three-story-tall cylindrical structure that is a key component in constructing heavy-lift rockets for the nation’s space program.

It’s called the “vertical weld center.” It’s a heavy metal framework holding state-of-the-art automated welding equipment, around which the Boeing Co. will build a major section of rockets for NASA’s new Space Launch System.

NASA and Boeing officials, joined by local government officials, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning at the building that holds the new machinery at the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans.

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