December 11, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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NASA’s updated Megarocket engines are ready for launch in critical tests

NASA’s updated Megarocket engines are ready for launch in critical tests

NASA is preparing to begin a crucial series of tests on the updated RS-25 engine, which will power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the upcoming Artemis missions to the moon.

rs-25 engine, Pivotal during the Space Shuttle era, remains a major focus as NASA looks to future Artemis missions. Upcoming certification tests, scheduled to extend through 2024, will be conducted at the Fred Hayes Test Stand, located inside NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. A total of 12 tests were set up, each spanning at least 500 seconds to reflect real launch durations, NASA says. the summary In a press release.

The test series will use the E0525 development engine to finalize and certify the RS-25 design. The components of this engine conform to the design features of those used during Initial certification test seriescIt was completed in Stennis in June. Through these tests, NASA will collect basic data about the engine’s performance and reliability.

“Testing at the historic Fred Haise Test Stand is critical to ensuring that astronauts fly safely,” Chip Ellis, RS-25 test project manager at Stennis, said in a press release. “The test team takes great care to ensure these engines perform as designed to launch NASA payloads and astronauts to the moon and beyond.”

The revamped RS-25 engine features new key components, such as the nozzle, hydraulic actuators, flexible ducts and turbopumps. Test ranges will fluctuate between 80% and 113% of power levels (the 113% test point is to establish reliable safety margins). While the initial Four Artemis missions (the first of which was It was successfully completed last yearIt will use modified Space Shuttle main engines capable of up to 109% power, and the new RS-25 engines can reach up to 111% power, according to NASA.

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“Testing a second batch of hardware during this next phase of our certification test series will give us the ability to repeat to ensure we have sound processes in place to build our new engines,” explained Mike Lauer, deputy director of the RS-25 program at Aerojet Rocketdyne, at NASA. press release. “Successful testing of the all-new certification engine demonstrated that our engineering was sound – and that the new design is capable of meeting requirements at peak operating periods.” Loer said upcoming tests will confirm that the company’s manufacturing processes reliably produce engines that meet these standards.

Once the tests are completed, NASA, with Aerojet Rocketdyne as prime contractor for the SLS engines, will produce 24 new RS-25 engines featuring the updated design, intended for use for the first time on the Artemis 5 mission scheduled for 2028. This will be an important step A move for NASA seeking to resume production of the RS-25 engine.

The first test is scheduled to last on October 5 for 550 seconds, with engine power reaching 111%. The longest test is expected to be 650 seconds. In total, the entire test series will contain 6,350 seconds of cumulative hot fire. An important challenge In the lineup, the axial capacity of the motor will be checked, known as the axle test.

It’s encouraging to see progress in preparation for upcoming Artemis missions, but A The latest report on SLS suggests a rather large elephant at the launch pad: The giant rocket cannot be sustained. Even with NASA busy testing the RS-25 engine, it is clear that a lot of money is being pumped into rockets that after one use end up at the bottom of the ocean. Not only is the price of the missile at issue, but there is also a lack of clarity about actual costs and the potential for future delays. While space exploration is exciting and important, NASA’s spending on SLS needs to be rethought.

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