NASA prepares to ignite engines on ‘most powerful rocket ever built’



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Space launch system test: NASA prepares to ignite engines on ‘most powerful rocket ever built’ which can reach 17,500 mph and will one day carry astronauts to Mars

  • The $ 18 billion space launch system is the largest rocket engine ever built
  • The SLS will transport astronauts to the Moon and Mars as part of the Artemis mission
  • The hot fire test is expected to take place at some point on or after January 17
  • If it goes as planned, the first unmanned launch will take place later in 2021 and will see SLS launch the Orion spacecraft to the moon and return.

NASA’s massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will someday take astronauts to the Moon and Mars, will undergo its final ‘hot fire’ engine test later this month.

The space agency confirmed that the massive four motors will be bolted to the ground during firing – the final test before an unmanned test flight later this year.

The rocket has already undergone a number of static engine tests and the next test – the hot shot test – will take place at some point starting January 17.

SLS is designed to be the backbone of the Artemis program – which will see the first woman land on the Moon in 2024 and humans land on Mars in the 2030s.

The space agency confirmed that the massive four engines will be bolted to the ground during firing - the final test before an unmanned test flight later this year.

The space agency confirmed that the massive four motors will be bolted to the ground during firing – the final test before an unmanned test flight later this year.

The Jan. 17 hot shot test marks the culmination of a year's Green Run - a series of flight readiness checks of the massive SLS before launch.

The Jan. 17 hot shot test marks the culmination of a year’s Green Run – a series of flight readiness checks of the massive SLS before launch.

The $ 18 billion rocket was first announced in 2011 and will be capable of reaching speeds of 17,500 mph as it takes humans and technology further into space.

NASA hosted a “ wet dress rehearsal ” for the hot fire test on December 20 at the Stennis Space Center near St. Louis, Mississippi – this involved fully charging the liquid propellant in the main stage of the SLS, then drain it.

The Jan.17 hot fire test marks the culmination of a year’s Green Run – a series of flight readiness checks of the massive SLS before launch.

The hot shot test mimics the normal launch process by loading the thrusters and allowing them to circulate throughout the system as all four engines fire.

“During our Green Run wet rehearsal test, the main stage, the stage controller, and the Green Run software all performed flawlessly,” said Julie Bassier of NASA.

The space launch system is the largest rocket ever made and will be the backbone of NASA's deeper space missions for decades to come

The space launch system is the largest rocket ever made and will be the backbone of NASA’s deeper space missions for decades to come

The main stage - the backbone of the SLS - will transport astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and to Mars in the decade to come

The main stage – the backbone of the SLS – will transport astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and to Mars in the decade to come

Adding that “there was no leak when the tanks were fully charged and filled for about two hours”.

The hot fire test will demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system and software are working together as needed for the day of launch.

The main stage of the SLS will fly on the Artemis 1 mission – the first full test flight of the giant rocket and Orion crew capsule.

As part of this spaceflight, the SLS will launch Orion into space where it will fly to the moon and return without astronauts on board – scheduled for launch in late 2021.

The hot fire test will demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system and software are working together as needed for the day of launch.  SLS Artist Print

The hot fire test will demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system and software are working together as needed for the day of launch. SLS Artist Print

The rocket has already undergone a number of static engine tests and the next test - the hot fire test - will take place at some point starting January 17.

The rocket has already undergone a number of static engine tests and the next test – the hot fire test – will take place at some point starting January 17.

Artemis 2 is slated for August 2023 – the SLS will launch the Orion capsule to the Moon with an astronaut crew – the first manned spacecraft to exceed Earth orbit since 1972.

This will be followed a year later by Artemis 3 which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in October 2024 – again launched by the SLS.

NASA hopes to use SLS to launch parts of the Lunar Gateway space station – which will orbit the Moon for the next several years, and become operational by 2030.

The system will also help send equipment to the Moon for the development of a permanent base on the Moon in the decades to come.

NASA’s SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM ROCKET IS THE LARGEST EVER DESIGNED AND WILL ENABLE HUMANS TO EXPLORE THE SOLAR SYSTEM

Space Launch System, or SLS, is a launcher that NASA hopes will bring its astronauts back to the Moon and beyond.

The rocket will have an initial lift configuration, which is expected to launch in the mid-2020s, followed by improved “ advanced lift capacity ” that can carry heavier payloads. NASA has yet to set a timeline for the second iteration of SLS.

Initial lift capacity of the space launch system

– First flight: mid-2020

– Height: 98 meters (311 feet)

– Elevator: 70 metric tons

– Weight: 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million pounds)

Advanced lifting capacity of the space launch system

– Maiden flight: unknown

– Height: 384 feet (117 meters)

– Elevator: 130 metric tons

– Weight: 2.9 million kilograms (6.5 million pounds)

NASA's space launch system will have an initial lift configuration (second from right), which is expected to launch in the mid-2020s, followed by improved `` advanced lift capability '' (at the far right) that can carry heavier payloads.

NASA’s space launch system will have an initial lift configuration (second from right), which is expected to launch in the mid-2020s, followed by improved “ advanced lift capability ” (at the far right) that can carry heavier payloads.



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