NASA engineers have hot-fired the redesigned Artemis lunar rocket in preparation for future Space Launch System (SLS) flights that will bring humanity back to the moon and beyond.
The test of RS-25 motor was performed at the Fred Haise Testbed located at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on Wednesday, February 22. The test is part of a series to support production of the new RS-25 engines by contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, the leading Space Launch System engine contractor.
Improved engines should power the future Artemis program missions starting with Artemis 5. Four of these engines ran simultaneously during the test, generating up to 2 million pounds of thrust that will one day be used to help launch crewed Artemis missions to the moon.
Related: NASA tests improved rocket engines for future Artemis lunar missions (video)
During Wednesday’s test, the RS-25 engine was fired up to a power level of 111%, the same amount of power that would be needed for the SLS to lift the Artemis mission crew pod, Orion, and secondary payloads in orbit. NASA fired the engine for 600 seconds, which is 500 seconds longer than the SLS needs to lift the Orion craft and additional payloads into space, the agency wrote in a statement. statement (opens in a new tab).
The reason for this long-lasting hot fire is to allow RS-25 operators to test the limits of engine performance. This helps provide a margin of safety for actual flight operations.
The SLS engines are currently upgrades of 16 remaining main engines that remained at the end of NASA’s study. spaceship program. NASA Stennis began testing the engines in 2015, adding modifications that would be needed to fly SLS, the most powerful rocket never throw.
One of the most impressive aspects of the SLS is the fact that it is designed to be upgradeable. With that in mind, in 2019 NASA contracted Aerojet Rocketdyne to produce all-new RS-25 engines for SLS missions beyond Artemis 4.
Created with advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing that reduced cost and development time, the engines reached early development testing in 2020.
On February 8, the first real test of the first upgraded RS-25 engine has been completed as part of a 12-test program that will ensure Aerojet Rocketdyne is ready to produce the engines for future missions. Each of these later engines will be tested at NASA Stennis by a combined team of operators from NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services.
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