NASA is trying to shoot the engines on top of it Space launch system (SLS) megarocket for the first time today and you can watch the hot action live online.
As part of a critical test before the rocket’s hememotion rises for the first time, the agency plans ignite the four main engines at heavy lift nuclear power this afternoon (January 16). The test, designed to simulate the performance of the nuclear phase during launch, will take place at the agency’s premises Stennis Space Center, Mississippi.
You can Watch the test live here and on the Space.com website with permission from NASA beginning at 4:20 PM EST (1920 GMT). You can too Watch the test directly from NASA here.
Today’s engine test is the final step in the agency’s “Green Run” test series, which aims to ensure that the SLS rocket is ready for the first launch – called Artemis 1 – it sends a screwless Orion spacecraft around the moon. The first flight is scheduled to explode later this year.
Video: How NASA’s SLS megarocket engine test works
SLS is NASA’s next-generation heavy rocket that will take astronauts to the moon as part of the agency’s Artemis lunar program. Launched by the end of this year, Artemis 1 is the first in a series of missions that will culminate in NASA’s first crew landing since the Apollo era. That task, called Artemis 3, can happen right away in 2024 if everything goes as planned.
To this end, NASA is launching the four RS-25 engines of the massive SLS rocket before launch. The Agency has systematically tested each engine and performed start-up procedures, such as fuel, to ensure that all systems are operating as expected.
The upcoming fire test test is the final step in the testing process. On Saturday, engineers will load more than 700,000 gallons of supercool propellant of SLS nuclear power before igniting all four of their RS-25 engines at once. This marks the first time that four RS-25 motors have started at the same time. (The same engines used a space shuttle, but it only took three to fly the orbit.)
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Burn for about 8 minutes – the time they burn during the moon’s launch – the RS-25 quartet produces a whopping 1.6 million pounds of thrust during the test.
“When we ignite the engines, the scene actually thinks it’s flying,” NASA’s Green Run test director at Stennis Space Center told Ryan McKibben at a pre-test media conference on Jan. 12. “It’s built to do. But of course it’s not going anywhere, because the stage is fixed in the same places where the anchored fixed rocket amps would be anchored.”
As part of the agency’s “Green Run” testing schedule, the megarocket went through two wet suits during which the fuel was loaded and then drained. According to officials, the tests went well; however, they were not without problems. One of the fuel operations ended early, another was delayed due to temperature issues, and the campaign was also affected by several tropical storms as well as a global pandemic. As a result, the agency decided to postpone the fire test.
Photos: NASA’s first lunar SLS megarocket core phase has engines
Agency officials explained it the delays proved fruitful as the team was able to review procedures and update terminal countdowns for pre-flight testing.
The test is scheduled to take place late Saturday afternoon, and that morning the day begins with a go / no-go meeting where the team decides to start fueling. Once running, a final interrogation will be conducted in T-10 minutes to determine if it is safe to continue the fire test.
The engines burn for 485 seconds, or about 8 minutes. When the test is complete, the review of the data will begin and is expected to take several days, says Julie Basser of NASA, SLS Program Manager at Marshall Space Flight Center.
“This is the first time this nuclear phase has been shot, and this is a huge milestone for us,” he said. We will do our best to make sure you get the most out of this fire test and we are ready to fire. Testing provides an opportunity to learn and make sure the rocket is ready to fly astronauts to the moon. “
If all goes as expected, the nuclear phase will be refurbished and then delivered to the Kennedy Space Center to prepare for launch. Its expected arrival is scheduled for some time in February, when it will be integrated with the rest of the vehicle already on site.
At the moment, solid rocket solid rocket reinforcement segments stacked one at a time in the vehicle assembly building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In addition to the four RS-25 motors, the SLS motor is powered by two fixed rocket amplifiers consisting of five matched segments. (Each booster vaccine is made from recovered segments used in NASA’s space shuttle program.)
Fully assembled, each fixed rocket lifter stands 177 feet long (54 meters) and produces more than 3.6 million pounds of thrust on the ascent – most of the power in the first two minutes of launch and flight.
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This first SLS rocket will be used for the Artemis 1 mission, an unscrewed flight that will send NASA Orion space capsule on its way around the moon, helping to pave the way for a planned lunar descent near the south pole of the moon.
Orion is the third NASA vehicle currently under development to eventually fly NASA astronauts into and out of Earth’s orbit. First, SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule began service in 2020 when it put astronauts on the space station in May and November.
The Boeing Starliner crew capsule is expected to launch astronauts later this year after a successful second orbit test. Starliner first embarked in 2019 on an unmanned flight to the space station, but did not reach the orbit forefront the following a series of software bugs. Its next test flight is scheduled for March at the earliest, and if all goes well, it will transport a crew of three astronauts to the space station later this year.
Three different astronaut-toting capsules give NASA the flexibility to routinely send astronauts into low-Earth orbit while exploring the moon and eventually Mars.
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