Engineers from NASA and Boeing have added cryogenic fuels to the basic phase of the space launch system (SLS), reaching a major milestone in the development of this advanced rocket.
That’s seven down, another one.
NASA is in the middle of its basic SLS testing of Green Run, a series of tests that prepare the rocket for the long-awaited actual launch. The latest test, conducted Sunday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, was called the “wet general exercise,” in which engineers loaded more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic fuel into tank rockets. The fuel was then controlled and drained, “returning the scene to a safe condition,” according to to a NASA statement.
With this seventh Green Run test, NASA can now expect the eighth and final test, in which all four RS-25 engines will be lit for more than eight minutes. This test will set the stage for the certification and dawn of the Artemis era. NASA hopes to launch the unmanned SLS in November 2021.
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The 212-meter-high SLS rocket, with its massive four-engine core, is an integral component of the Artemis program. The current plan to send astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024 could be disrupted if the SLS program fails to deliver on time.
The fuel for SLS consists of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Together, this propellant serves as a fuel and as an oxidizing agent required for the fuel. The chemicals are cooled to ultra low temperatures to keep the fuel in a compact liquid form. Six barges delivered the necessary fuel for the test, which was achieved thanks to the network of waterways in the region. Refueling was performed while the SLS core of the rocket was calmed using the test stand of the B-2 plant.
NASA Boeing engineers carefully monitored all baseline systems during the test. Preliminary insight into the data suggests that the “phase was well performed during the refueling and refueling process,” according to NASA.
But the test was not perfect. The plan was to simulate the actual countdown of propellant in the core, but the test ended abruptly when the clock reached T-33 seconds, for reasons not yet known. “The core and test stand of the B-2 are in excellent condition and this does not appear to be a hardware problem,” NASA explained, adding that the team is evaluating the data to determine the exact cause of the early shutdown. . ”
Despite this obvious problem, NASA will now embark on its eighth Green Run test, which should be far more exciting than loading fuel. Indeed, it itches us when we see this monster shoot, even if it has to stay on the ground. At least for now.