World news – 8 minutes of fire: NASA has successfully completed the 2nd test of the giant new moon rocket


A test earlier this year of the core phase of the Space Launch System was affected by errors, so the agency made a revision.

NASA engineers cheered after the Space Launch System rocket fired its engines for more than 8 minutes in a floor test.

Applause is heard from the @NAStennis teams as the Green Run hot fire test ends. After eight minutes of data collection, the teams will now begin shutting down.

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – On Thursday, NASA’s new large rocket, the Space Launch System, fired its engines for more than 8 minutes and went nowhere.

This test, known as hot fire, was a crucial step for the rocket, which has been in development for more than a decade. The four motors on the booster stage fired and ran through the steps they would take during an actual launch into orbit – but while being held firmly to Earth.

When NASA first did this in January Tried test with hot fire, the engines were brought to life. But instead of firing for eight minutes, the rocket’s computer shut down the engines in just a minute or so.

The engineers decided they needed an overhaul, and today was the day for it. Through external appearances, the iteration achieved what NASA needed to prepare the rocket for launch.

The Space Launch System is the equivalent of the Saturn 5 from the 21st century, with NASA astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s were brought to the moon. Although there are many other rockets today, they are too small to launch spaceships that can carry humans to the moon. One possible exception is SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, but a human moon mission would require two separate launches that carry parts that would then dock together in space or go to the moon separately.

The Falcon Heavy can go up to 64 tons to near-earth Raise orbit. The original version of the S.L.S. is a bit more powerful and can lift 70 tons. Future versions of the rocket can throw up to 130 tons, more than the rockets that brought the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

Although the space launch system will be expensive – up to $ 2 billion per launch for one Missile that can only be used once – Congress has so far given unwavering financial support for it. Supporters claim it is important for the government to own and operate its own powerful space rocket, and parts of the system are being built by companies across the country, spreading the economic benefits to many states and congressional districts.

That The Space Launch System is a key component of Artemis, the program designed to bring NASA astronauts back to the moon in the years to come. Although former President Donald J. Trump promised to make the trip by the end of 2024, few expected NASA to actually stick to that schedule before President Biden was elected.

During the eight-minute test, the four generated Engines over two million pounds of thrust. The engines also performed a number of activities, such as: B. throttling the thrust up and down and swiveling the direction of the nozzles.

« The reason why we test on site in such an environment is that we want to control the system and closely monitor and ensure that that we can shut down the system in case of problems, « said Steve Jurczyk, who acts as NASA administrator as agency is waiting for President Biden to nominate his candidate for the position.

The booster level – NASA calls it the core level – is mounted on a giant test bench at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The same test bench was used to test the first stages of the Saturn 5 in the 1960s. The structure was also used during the development of the space shuttle.

Due to the size of the core stage of the Space Launch System – more than 200 feet high and 27.6 feet wide – the test rig was modified with an additional steel structure.

The motors in the SLS Core stages aren’t new, but those that were used by the space shuttles. This used, space-flown hardware has been refurbished and upgraded for use on the new rocket.

The engines shut down early – after just 67 seconds – and as a result, NASA decided to collect more data to verify that the rocket will work properly during a real launch.

With the same core stage slated to launch later this year with no astronauts on board, engineers had to make sure the test did not damage that section of the rocket. As a result, they set some parameters as « conservative » that would stop the test if something was wrong. This happened to the aggregate pivoting the nozzle of one of the engines, although officials said it would not have caused a problem during an actual start.

A second fault indicating a « major component failure » on another engine, had nothing to do with it and would not have caused the test to pause or issue a problem during a startup. As a result of this failure, a defective electronic device was replaced.

The engineers have been confirmed in their confidence that they have fixed the problems from the first step, but other malfunctions may also arise.

The core stage will be packed soon and shipped by barge to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There it and other rocket parts, including two strap-on rocket boosters, a second stage and the Orion crew capsule, are assembled.

« This test is the final test of all flight hardware, » said Jurczyk. « It just has to be integrated – there are tests that come with the integration – and then it will be launched. »

That launch will be the Artemis 1 mission. (Artemis is Apollo’s sister in Greek mythology, and NASA officials have repeatedly said that one of the next astronauts to step on the moon will be a woman.) This will be a mission with no astronauts on board be. The launch will carry the Orion module and a large number of small CubeSats on a course to the moon. The capsule orbits the moon several times, similar to NASA’s Apollo 8 mission, before returning to Earth and splashing into a water landing.

The success of this mission could create the conditions for the first astronaut flight in Orion, and eventually to lead to a moon landing.

When NASA announced their plans for the space launch system in 2011, the first launch was planned for 2017. As is typical of new missile designs, the development encountered technical difficulties, such as the need to develop methods of welding metal parts together, large as those in the missile. NASA suspended work on the rocket for some time in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak last year.

When the first launch date slipped several times, the price soared. NASA has so far spent more than $ 10 billion on the rocket and more than $ 16 billion on the Orion capsule that the astronauts will sit in.

During an audit in 2018, the Inspector General of the NASA’s poor performance by Boeing, the prime contractor for building the booster phase, was responsible for much of the delay. Another 2020 report by the Inspector General said that NASA « continues to struggle with S.L.S. Program cost and schedule. “

Some other rockets are in development, and some may be about to begin their first space travel.

Most fascinating is the gigantic Starship rocket being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. If mounted on a giant booster stage, it would dwarf the Space Launch System but would be completely reusable like a passenger jet. It was designed to get people to Mars, and SpaceX also received an adaptation contract to get NASA astronauts to the lunar surface.

Five, four, three, two, one, ignition. We have take off. Confirm software. FC2 please prepare for Section 35, OAC, SE1, and LVN.

Mr. Musk’s engineers conducted atmospheric test flights of Starship prototypes at a location in South Texas on the Gulf Coast, some of which resulted in spectacular explosions after the missiles performed impressive maneuvers. During the final test earlier this month, the prototype missile managed to land in one piece, but it exploded minutes later. The company appears to be preparing for its next test flight in the coming days or weeks.

The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, may launch its Vulcan Centaur rocket in the fourth quarter of the year. The Vulcan Centaur is the successor to Atlas V, a longtime workhorse for launching military and NASA satellites. However, this missile uses Russia-built RD-180 engines and Congress, unable to rely on technology from a country often viewed as an adversary, has banned the import of RD-180 after 2022.

Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, has also developed a reusable rocket called the New Glenn that would compete with both Vulcan Centaur and SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. (Blue Origin will also make money with every Vulcan Centaur launch. This booster uses Blue Origin BE-4 engines.) However, Blue Origin has announced that the maiden flight from New Glenn will not take place until the end of next year at the earliest. two years later than originally planned.

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