The first stage of NASA’s next-generation SLS moon rocket faces a critical test firing today. This will see the four main engines powering the space rocket assessed for the final time before the fully-assembled booster’s long-delayed launch on an actual unmanned flight.
NASA’s SLS is a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of providing the foundation for exploring space far beyond our planet’s orbit.
With its unprecedented power and capabilities, SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, crew and cargo to the Moon on a single mission.
Offering more payload mass, volume capability, and energy, SLS is designed to be flexible and evolvable and will open new possibilities for payloads, including robotic scientific missions to places like the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
The rocket is expected to provide the power to help partially reusable space capsule Orion reach speeds hitting 24,500mph (40,000kph).
Space agency NASA revealed a little more about what exactly will be taking place during this “hot fire” test in a recent blog post, underlining just how powerful the cutting-edge engines are.
NASA wrote: “The hot fire is the eighth and final test of the Green Run series to ensure the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready to launch Artemis missions to the Moon, beginning with Artemis I.
“The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, and the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the ‘brains’ of the rocket.
“During the test, engineers will power up all the core stage systems, load more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or super-cold, propellant into the tanks, and fire all four engines at the same time to simulate the stage’s operation during launch, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust.”