NASA will try to launch the engines on Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket for the first time today and you can watch the fireworks live online.
As part of a critical test before the giant missile debuts, the agency plans to do so The four main engines ignite their core booster for heavy lift That’s around 5 PM EST (2200 GMT) today, Jan.16. The test, designed to simulate the performance of the base stage during launch, will take place at the agency’s headquarters. Stennis Space Center, In Mississippi.
Today’s engine test is the final step in the agency’s “Green Run” test series designed to ensure the SLS missile is ready for its first launch. It is called Artemis 1 – This will send an unmanned spacecraft around the moon. That maiden flight is scheduled to take off later this year.
The SLS is NASA’s next-generation heavy lift rocket that will transport astronauts to the moon as part of the agency’s Artemis Lunar Program. Artemis 1 will be launched by the end of this year, and it will be the first in a series of missions that will culminate in NASA’s first manned moon landing since the Apollo era. That mission, called Artemis 3, It could happen as soon as 2024 If all goes as planned.
To this end, NASA puts the four RS-25 engines of the massive SLS missile during its pre-launch paces. The agency has systematically tested each engine and conducted launch day procedures such as refueling to ensure all systems were working as expected.
The upcoming fire engine test is the final step in the testing process. On Saturday, engineers will load the SLS base booster with more than 700,000 gallons of propellant before igniting all four RS-25 engines simultaneously. This will be the first time that four RS-25 engines have been launched simultaneously. (The same engines powered the space shuttle but it only took three to get the craft to fly.)
Burning for about 8 minutes – how long they’ll burn during launch to the moon – the RS-25 Quadruple will generate a whopping 1.6 million pounds of thrust during testing.
“When we turn on the engines, the stage will think it’s actually flying,” said Ryan McKibben, NASA’s Green Run test lead at the Stennis Space Center, during a pre-test media conference on January 12th. . But of course, it won’t go anywhere because the theater is installed in the same locations as the solid rocket boosters. “
As part of the agency’s “Green Run” test schedule, the Megaruct underwent a double-test, during which the fuel was loaded and subsequently discharged. Officials said the tests went well; However, it was not without a problem. One of the refueling operations ended early, one was delayed due to temperature issues, and the campaign was also affected by multiple tropical storms in addition to the global pandemic. as a result, The agency chose to postpone the hot fire test.
Agency officials explained that The delays have been fruitful The team was able to review procedures and update the final countdown sequence based on pre-flight testing.
The test is scheduled for late Saturday afternoon, and that morning, the day will begin with a go / no-go meeting where the team will decide to start refueling procedures. Once this is done, a final reconnaissance will be conducted in T-10 minutes to determine if it is safe to proceed with the hot fire test.
The engines will burn for 485 seconds, or approximately 8 minutes. Once the test is complete, the data review will begin and it is expected to take several days, according to Julie Basser of NASA, SLS Program Director at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
“This is the first time that we have launched this basic stage, and this is a great achievement for us,” she said. We are doing our best to ensure we get the most out of this hot shot test and we’re ready to fire. The test provides an opportunity to learn and make sure that the rocket is ready to transport astronauts to the moon. “
If all goes as expected, the base stage will be renewed and then shipped to the Kennedy Space Center to prepare for launch. Its expected arrival is scheduled for some time in February, when it will be combined with the rest of the vehicle already on site.
Currently, Solid rocket booster slides for massive rocket They are piled one by one in the vehicle assembly building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Alongside the four RS-25 engines, the SLS will be powered by two solid rocket boosters made up of five parts mounted together. (Each booster is made from recovered parts that have been used on NASA’s space shuttle program.)
Once fully assembled, both solid rocket boosters will reach 177 feet (54 meters) and produce over 3.6 million pounds of thrust on takeoff – the bulk of the power within the first two minutes of launch and flight.
The first SLS missile will be used on the Artemis 1 mission, an unmanned flight that will send NASA Orion space capsule On a journey around the moon, helping to pave the way for an eventual planned landing on the moon’s surface near the moon’s south polar region.
Orion is the third spacecraft currently being developed by NASA that will eventually transport NASA astronauts to low Earth orbit and beyond. The first, SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule It entered service in 2020 as it carried astronauts to the space station in May and November.
Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule is expected to launch astronauts later this year, after the success of its second orbital flight test. The Starliner was first launched in 2019, on an unmanned flight to the space station, but failed to reach the next orbital position. A series of anomalous programs. The next test flight is scheduled to take place no later than March, and if all goes well, it will transport a crew of three astronauts to the space station later this year.
Having three different astronaut capsules would provide NASA the flexibility to routinely send astronauts into low Earth orbit while exploring the Moon and ultimately Mars.
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