NASA finishes testing engines that will power its SLS ‘megarocket’

  • NASA has completed flight preparations for the four engines of the SLS rocket
  • Five structures that make up the huge core stage are now complete, NASA says
  • This includes section where the four upgraded RS-25 engines will be installed

Cheyenne Macdonald For Dailymail.com

NASA has completed flight preparations for the four engines of the massive mega-rocket that could one day carry astronauts to Mars.

According to the space agency, the engines are now ready to be integrated into the rocket’s core stage – the largest ever built.

The enormous rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System (SLS), will fly with the Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Mission-1 in 2019, in an unmanned test journey ahead of future crewed missions.

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NASA has completed flight preparations for the four engines (pictured) of the massive mega-rocket that could one day carry astronauts to Mars. According to the space agency, the engines are now ready to be integrated into the rocket¿s core stage ¿ the largest ever built

NASA has completed flight preparations for the four engines (pictured) of the massive mega-rocket that could one day carry astronauts to Mars. According to the space agency, the engines are now ready to be integrated into the rocket¿s core stage ¿ the largest ever built

NASA has completed flight preparations for the four engines (pictured) of the massive mega-rocket that could one day carry astronauts to Mars. According to the space agency, the engines are now ready to be integrated into the rocket’s core stage – the largest ever built

THE EM-1 MISSION

Nasa’s Orion, stacked on a Space Launch System rocket capable of lifting 70 metric tons will launch from a newly refurbished Kennedy Space Center in November 2019.

The uncrewed Orion will travel into Distant Retrograde Orbit, breaking the distance record reached by the most remote Apollo spacecraft, and then 30,000 miles farther out (275,000 total miles).

The mission will last 22 days and was originally designed to test system readiness for future crewed operations.

‘NASA’s priority is to deliver hardware for the first flight of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft,’ said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

‘This year, the SLS team has constructed major parts of the rocket, such as the in-space stage, which is already at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the four RS-25 engines, core stage structures, and solid rocket booster segments.’

The five structures that make up the huge core stage are now complete, NASA says.

This includes the section where the RS-25 engines will be installed.

The SLS rocket will use upgraded RS-25 engines, which have proven their capabilities over 135 shuttle missions.

Those to be used for EM-1 have supported a total of 21 missions so far, according to NASA.

They’ll be attached to the core stage ahead of green run testing, which will be the final test before the first mission.

‘NASA has transformed these phenomenal engines that served so well in the past for a new bold mission – the first integrated launch of SLS and Orion,’ said Steve Wofford, the SLS liquid engines manager at Marshall.

 The enormous rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System (SLS), will fly with the Orion spacecraft¿s Exploration Mission-1 in 2019, in an unmanned test journey ahead of future crewed missions

 The enormous rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System (SLS), will fly with the Orion spacecraft¿s Exploration Mission-1 in 2019, in an unmanned test journey ahead of future crewed missions

 The enormous rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System (SLS), will fly with the Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Mission-1 in 2019, in an unmanned test journey ahead of future crewed missions

‘For engines needed beyond the first four flights, we are working with our industry partner Aerojet Rockedyne to streamline manufacturing and make future engines more affordable.’

NASA recently completed the welding on the liquid hydrogen tank, marking the last of the five parts to be built for the rocket’s core stage.

The enormous core stage will be taller than a 20-story building, and carry more than 700,000 gallons of propellant.

‘To make these massive propellant tanks, NASA and our industry partner Boeing have used the largest robotic rocket welding tool to build the thickest pieces ever welded with self-reacting friction stir welding,’ said Steve Doering, SLS stages manager at Marshall.

The enormous core stage will be taller than a 20-story building, and carry more than 700,000 gallons of propellant.

The enormous core stage will be taller than a 20-story building, and carry more than 700,000 gallons of propellant.

The enormous core stage will be taller than a 20-story building, and carry more than 700,000 gallons of propellant.

‘Now, we are moving from manufacturing major structures for the core stage to outfitting them to do their jobs and make the rocket fly.’

To test the liquid oxygen flight tank’s weld strength, the space agency filled the tank with 200,000 gallons of water, and subjected it to pressures and forces similar to those of a real flight.

Soon, the tank will be subjected to proof testing using gaseous nitrogen.

‘This rocket is happening now,’ said Honeycutt.

‘The Space Launch System team has made great progress and has an exciting year ahead as NASA conducts crucial structural tests at Marshall, assembles the core stage and the four RS-25 engines at Michoud and delivers more hardware to the launch pad at Kennedy.’