World news – NASA is testing giant rocket for the next lunar mission


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March 18, 2021

NASA prepared for a key test of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket Thursday as the agency prepares to return to the moon.

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In the second « hot fire » test, all four of the rocket’s RS-25 engines are fired simultaneously and reach a maximum of 1.6 million pounds of thrust (7.1 million Newtons).

It will be the the second such test, which includes the 65-meter-high core stage at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, after the first was canceled in January.

Following this test, NASA issued a statement that « no major repairs were required » after the engines were turned off just one minute after eight minutes, but without specifying what went wrong.

The Thursday’s test should also last eight minutes and should provide data that will help minimize the risk of lunar missions.

If all goes well, it will take about a month to renovate the core stage and then it will transported by barrage to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

There it will be assembled with the other parts of the SLS rocket and the Orion crew capsule that are being prepared for the Artemis I will launch later this year – one Mission without a crew.

The SLS program was fraught with delays and cost overruns and was originally scheduled to start in 2016.

NASA announced last August that the base development co The first was $ 9.1 billion and the initial ground systems capacity was $ 2.4 billion.

It was also run as a « job program » for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as well as for Boeing’s prime contractor, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman criticized.

While SLS is far more powerful than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which is used to launch satellites and bring crews to the ISS, Musk’s company is also working on a prototype rocket called the Starship, who will be able to explore space.

Starship’s last three test flights ended in breathtaking explosions, but analysts believe the glitches, paradoxically, will accelerate the spacecraft’s development and ultimately make it a viable alternative to SLS could.

© 2021 AFP

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