NASA prepares to run engines on ‘most powerful rocket ever built’

The space agency has confirmed that the four massive engines will be ground to the ground during firing - the final test before an unmanned test flight later this year.

Space Launch System Test: NASA is preparing to launch engines on the “ most powerful rocket ever built ” that can reach speeds of 17,500 mph and will one day carry astronauts to Mars

  • The $ 18 billion Space Launch System is the largest rocket engine ever built
  • SLS will transport astronauts to the Moon and Mars as part of the Artemis mission
  • The hot fire test is scheduled to take place sometime on or after January 17th
  • If planned, the first unmanned launch would take place later in 2021 and would see the SLS launch of the Orion spacecraft to the moon and back.

NASA’s Massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will someday take astronauts to the moon and Mars will undergo its final “hot fire” engine test later this month.

And the space agency confirmed that the four massive engines will be grounded during the shooting – the final test before an unmanned test flight later this year.

The missile has already undergone a number of static engine tests, and the next test – the hot fire test – will be conducted sometime beginning January 17.

The SLS is designed to be the backbone of the Artemis program – which will see the first woman land on the moon in 2024 and humans land on Mars in 2030.

The hot test shooting on January 17 marks the culmination of the year-long Green Run - a series of checks on the readiness of the SLS mega-flight before launch

The hot test shooting on January 17 marks the culmination of the year-long Green Run – a series of checks on the readiness of the SLS mega-flight before launch

The $ 18 billion rocket was first announced in 2011 and will be able to reach speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour as it takes humans and technology deep into space.

NASA conducted a “rehearsal” of the hot fire test on December 20 at the Stennis Space Center near St. Louis, Mississippi – this involved loading the liquid fuel completely into the base stage of the SLS and then drying it.

The hot shooting test conducted on January 17 marked the culmination of the one-year Green Run – a series of checks on SLS mega-flight readiness before launch.

The hot fire test replicates the normal firing process by loading the propellant and letting it flow throughout the system while the four engines are fired

“During our pilot Green Run test, performing the base stage, theater console and Green Run program were easy,” said NASA’s Julie Bassier.

The Space Launch System is the largest missile ever made and will be the backbone of deeper space missions for NASA in the coming decades

The Space Launch System is the largest missile ever made and will be the backbone of deeper space missions for NASA in the coming decades

The base stage - the backbone of the SLS - will take astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and to Mars in the next decade

The base stage – the backbone of the SLS – will take astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and to Mars in the next decade

Adding that “there were no leaks when the tanks were fully loaded and renewed for about two hours.”

A hot fire test will show that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressure system, and software work together as needed for the day of the launch.

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The SLS base stage will fly on the Artemis 1 mission – the first full test flight of the giant rocket and crew’s Orion capsule.

As part of this spaceflight, SLS Orion will launch into space where it will fly to the moon and return without astronauts on board – scheduled for launch in late 2021.

A hot fire test will show that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressure system, and software work together as needed for the day of the launch.  Artist's impression of the SLS

A hot fire test will show that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressure system, and software work together as needed for the day of the launch. Artist’s impression of the SLS

The missile has already undergone a number of static engine tests and the next test - the hot fire test - will take place sometime on January 17

The missile has already undergone a number of static engine tests and the next test – the hot fire test – will take place sometime on January 17

Artemis 2 is scheduled to launch in August 2023 – SLS will launch the Orion capsule to the moon with a crew of astronauts – the first manned spacecraft to go beyond Earth’s orbit since 1972.

This will be followed a year later by the Artemis 3 that will land the first woman and next man on the moon in October 2024 – SLS launched again.

NASA hopes to use the SLS to launch parts of the Lunar Gateway space station – which will orbit the moon in the coming years, with it operational by 2030.

The system will also help send equipment to the moon to develop a permanent base on the moon in the coming decades.

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is the largest ever and will allow humans to explore the solar system

The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a launch vehicle that NASA hopes to return astronauts to the moon and beyond.

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The missile will have an initial lift configuration, scheduled for launch in mid-2020, followed by “advanced lift capacity” that can carry heavier payloads. NASA has yet to set a schedule for the second iteration of the SLS.

The initial lift capacity of the Space Launch System

First flight: mid-2020

Height: 311 feet (98 meters)

Lift: 70 metric tons

Weight: 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million pounds)

The Space Launch System developed lift capacity

First flight: Unknown

Height: 384 feet (117 meters)

Lift: 130 metric tons

Weight: 2.9 million kilograms (6.5 million pounds)

NASA's Space Launch System will have a primary lift configuration (second from right), scheduled for launch in mid-2020, followed by an `` advanced lift capacity '' (far right) that can carry heavier payloads.

NASA’s Space Launch System will have a primary lift configuration (second from right), scheduled for launch in mid-2020, followed by an “ advanced lift capacity ” (far right) that can carry heavier payloads.

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