Tuesday, 15 March 2016

NASA successfully test-fires updated RS-25 main engine for the first time

A team of scientists at NASA has been working hard in testing and developing Space Launch System (SLS). Things seem to be sorting out for the next-generation manned launch vehicle of NASA, the Space Launch System (SLS).

The US space agency has now for the first time test-fired the updated RS-25 main engine, which went off successfully without any delay, burning at 109% thrust for 500 seconds.
The space agency has been dependent on Russian Soyuz capsules for reaching low-Earth orbit since the retirement of the Space Shuttle some years back.
The aim is to start sending astronauts to orbit on commercial vehicles in the coming few years, however, the vision of NASA is focused on quite far away targets such as the Red Planet and asteroids. The Space Launch System has proposed to reach at these destinations.
To reach there, the SLS has to slip the bonds of gravity with the help of a pair of solid rocket boosters bigger than any made so far. It will also need four updated RS-25 liquid fuel engines. The recently tested RS-25 engine is the first of a new breed. The Shuttle program has re-purposed this engine.
It is the same basic engine that flew on the Shuttle, however, contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne has brought some changes in it. The contractor collected the 16 surplus Shuttle engines and refitted them for SLS use. Before modifications, the engines would go up to the highest point at 104% thrust.
A RS-25 engines trio flew on every Shuttle mission, with having 135 successful uses under its belt. Aerojet Rocketdyne never let go the chance of saying that they are the most dependable rocket engines produced so far.
Along with the Shuttle, the engines came on the Earth with the orbiter for refurbishment and to be used again. It won’t be the case with the SLS.
In a report published by the ScientificAmerican, "The space agency successfully test fired the RS-25 rocket engine for a full 500 seconds, clearing a milestone toward its exploration goals. The next time that particular engine, serial number 2059, fires for that length of time, it will be to launch astronauts on NASA's first crewed mission beyond Earth orbit since the last of the Apollo moon missions more than 45 years ago."
"What a great moment for NASA," said Rick Gilbrech, the director of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where Thursday's hot-fire test took place. "We have exciting days ahead with a return to deep space and a journey to Mars, and this test is a very big step in that direction."
According to a report in PHYS by Ken Kremer, "The hot fire marks the first test of an RS-25 flight engine for NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle. It also simultaneously marks a major milestone towards implementing the agency's vision of sending humans on future deep-space missions to destinations including the moon, an asteroid and a'Journey to Mars.'"
The SLS is the most powerful rocket the world has ever seen and will loft astronauts in the Orion capsule on missions back to the moon by around 2021, to an asteroid around 2025 and then beyond on a 'Journey to Mars' in the
2030s - NASA's overriding and agency wide goal. The first unmanned SLS test flight is slated for late 2018.
"NASA says that its latest tests are a milestone towards the next stage of space exploration - and Mars. It successfully fired an RS-25 rocket engine for 500 seconds on Thursday March 10th. This is the same engine that will eventually send astronauts on the first deep-space mission in more than 45 years. It's a key part of NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS), aimed at taking humans to nearby asteroids and, after that, the red planet. Four of these engines power the SLS - making up a combined thrust of two million pounds," according to a news report published by Engadget.
The space agency and its contractor, the appropriately-named AeroJet Rocketdyne, ran several tests on the same engine last year, focused on the controller and testing out different operating conditions on the SLS. After this week's success, the two organizations will start on new flight engine controllers while further testing the engines. NASA is also working on a test stand similar for the rocket's eventual first flight. The stand will attach to the core stage, while NASA attempts to fire four RS-25s at once.
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