The third hot fire test of an RS-25 engine of the Space Launch System has been completed at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, US. The engine was fired for 500 seconds. SLS is the newest rocket from NASA. It is being designed to send astronauts on future missions beyond Earth’s orbit. The Rocket will be equipped with four RS-25 engine and travel at speeds of 17,500 mph.
The RS-25 engines are the world’s most reliable rocket booster engine. The liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines have powered humans and payload on all 135 Space Shuttle Flights. For over three decades, they have enabled the advancement and construction of the International Space Station, deployment and servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, and furthering our scientific understanding of the Universe. Even though the RS-25 has been used for decades, the SLS will have different performance requirements which require the engine to be retested. On the SLS, the engines will be used in a cluster of four. Each engine has increased its thrust from 491,000 pounds vacuum thrust to 512,000 pounds vacuum thrust.
This series of testing on the RS-25 started January 9th and the second test was executed on May 28th. Four more tests are planned as part of the current development engine. The tests are designed to test the performance of the engines with colder liquid oxygen temperatures, greater inlet pressure and higher vehicle acceleration, more nozzle heating, and its position with the SLS booster exhaust nozzles. New ablative insulation and heaters are also be evaluated during testing.
The prime contractor for the RS-25 engines’ is Sacramento, California-based Aerojet Rocketdyne. Designated Exploration Mission 1, the first test flight of the SLS will have a 77t lift capacity. The first test flight will carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. Lift capability will be enhanced to 143t to facilitate missions even farther into our solar system. NASA hopes to use this configuration to reach Mars.
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