Progress continues in 2018 on Aerojet Rocketdyne's RS 25 engines for SLS with the testing of 3-D printed parts to speed up production and reduce costs for future launches. FOX News reported on these successful tests in the video below:
The Latest Updates from the SLS, Orion & Exploration Ground Systems programs:
Progress towards Exploration Mission-1 continued this month with the completion of work on the four RS-25 engines that will be used to power SLS in its launch of Orion to the Lunar orbit. This milestone marks the last step before the integration of these four engines on the core stage of SLS for the "green run" testing.
In its announcement, NASA noted that: "The flight preparations for the four engines that will power NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) on its first integrated flight with Orion are complete and the engines are assembled and ready to be joined to the deep space rocket’s core stage. All five structures that form the massive core stage for the rocket have been built including the engine section where the RS-25 engines will be attached.
"The SLS has the largest core stage ever built and includes four RS-25 engines, which previously powered NASA’s space shuttle. The RS-25 engines that are being tested and prepared for SLS were proven during the years they were responsible for propelling 135 shuttle missions, and have been upgraded for the first SLS flight. The four that will fly on Exploration Mission-1 supported a total of 21 shuttle missions.
"In total, NASA has 16 flight-proven RS-25 engines and two development engines that are being used as “workhorse” engines for testing. These engines have been used to test new controllers – the brains of the engine – which have now been installed on the flight engines. The flight engines will be attached to the core stage to prepare for green run testing – the final test for the four flight engines and the core stage that will occur before the first mission."
Vice President Mike Pence authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the administration's vision for U.S. leadership and space exploration in advance of the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council on October 5 at the National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. Key quotes about exploration from the op-ed are highlighted below:
"President Trump has revived the National Space Council to assist him in developing and implementing long-range strategic goals for our nation’s space policy. On Thursday the council will hold its first meeting in nearly 25 years, and as its chairman, I will deliver a simple message: America will lead in space again. More than ever, American prosperity and security depend on U.S. leadership in space. Yet national space policy often has lacked a coherent, cohesive vision. The results not only are disappointing; they endanger the well-being of the American people.
"The president has charged the National Space Council with restoring that leadership. The council’s objectives are clear. We will refocus America’s space program toward human exploration and discovery. That means launching American astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time since 1972. It means establishing a renewed American presence on the moon, a vital strategic goal. And from the foundation of the moon, America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars.
To read the full op-ed, please visit: https://www.wsj.com/articles/america-will-return-to-the-moonand-go-beyond-1507158341
Even after its successful EFT-1 return from space, engineers have continued testing on Orion's parachutes to simulate a range of conditions it may experience on reentry from deep space. Earlier this month, engineers tested a scenario in which is was subjected to extreme loads. More from NASA:
"During this test, engineers replicated a situation in which Orion must abort off the Space Launch System rocket and bypass part of its normal parachute deployment sequence that typically helps the spacecraft slow down during its descent to Earth after deep space missions. The capsule was dropped out of a C-17 aircraft at more than 4.7 miles in altitude and allowed to free fall for 20 seconds, longer than ever before, to produce high aerodynamic pressure before only its pilot and main parachutes were deployed, testing whether they could perform as expected under extreme loads. Orion’s full parachute system includes 11 total parachutes -- three forward bay cover parachutes and two drogue parachutes, along with three pilot parachutes that help pull out the spacecraft’s three mains."
This summer marked the continuation of a successful series of RS-25 engine tests at NASA's Stennis Space Center. From NASA:
"NASA engineers closed a summer of successful hot fire testing Aug. 30 for flight controllers on RS-25 engines that will help power the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, being built to carry astronauts to deep-space destinations, including Mars. The space agency capped off summer testing with a 500-second hot fire of a fifth RS-25 engine flight controller unit on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The controller serves as the “brain” of the engine, communicating with SLS flight computers to ensure engines are performing at needed levels. The test marked another step toward the nation’s return to human deep-space exploration missions."
Last week, Lockheed Martin and NASA powered on the Orion spacecraft that will be launched on Exploration Mission-1. According to NASA:
“'The initial power-on procedure verified the health and status of Orion’s core computers and power and data units and marks the beginning of critical spacecraft subsystem tests to get us ready for flight,' said Mark Kirasich, NASA Orion program manager. 'Our test team, ground support equipment and flight systems all performed remarkably well during the test. This is a major milestone for Orion and for our long range deep space exploration plans.'
"During the initial power-on tests, engineers and technicians connected the vehicle management computers to Orion’s power and data units to ensure the systems communicate precisely with one another to accurately route power and functional commands throughout the spacecraft for the duration of a deep-space exploration mission. In spaceflight, Orion will generate power through its four solar array wings which collectively hold about 15,000 solar cells that can harness enough electricity to power eight three-bedroom homes. The power and data units then distribute that power as needed throughout the spacecraft."
Great NASA summary of the spin-offs from the SLS and Orion programs:
"NASA’s Orion spacecraft is designed to take astronauts farther than anyone has ever gone before: to the moon, an asteroid, and even Mars. To propel Orion into space, NASA is also developing what will be the most powerful rocket ever built, the Space Launch System (SLS). SLS and Orion will provide entirely new capabilities and will initiate the next chapter of our nation’s exploration of the solar system. All of this will be powered by cutting-edge technology that has applications not only in space but on Earth as well: advanced materials, manufacturing techniques, design software, and life support equipment are just a few of the many spinoffs that have already come from Orion and SLS—with many more sure to come."
For more information, visit: https://spinoff.nasa.gov/flyers/orion.htm