NASA Completes Booster Motor Segments for First Space Launch System Flight

From NASA:

NASA and its industry partners have completed manufacture and checkout of 10 motor segments that will power two of the largest solid propellant boosters ever built. The solid rocket fuel will help produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust to send NASA's Space Launch System rocket on its first integrated flight with the Orion spacecraft. Technicians at Northrop Grumman in Promontory, Utah, in coordination with SLS program leads at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, finalized the fabrication of all 10 motor segments and fitted them with key flight instrumentation. They'll be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, joined with booster forward and aft assemblies, and readied to power the SLS Exploration Mission-1 test flight when it launches from Kennedy. The uncrewed test launch will pave the way for a new era of groundbreaking science and exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, carrying crew and cargo to the Moon and on to Mars. Marshall manages the Space Launch System for NASA.


NASA Joins Structures to Form Top of Space Launch System Core Stage

From NASA:

Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have completed the “forward join,” connecting structures to form the top part of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage. This first core stage will send Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of SLS and the Orion spacecraft, out beyond the Moon. The forward join mated three structures shown above: the forward skirt, the liquid oxygen tank and the intertank. This milestone marks the beginning of integration and assembly of the massive, 212-foot-tall SLS core stage, which will include the rocket’s four RS-25 rocket engines, propellant tanks, and flight computers. Now, NASA and Boeing, the SLS prime contractor, will continue to integrate various systems inside the forward part of the core stage and prepare for structural joining of the liquid hydrogen tank and engine section to form the bottom of the stage. These two parts of the core stage will then be assembled to form the largest stage NASA has ever built.  Watch this video showing how the structures were connected.


EM-1 Flight Engines Complete & Ready for Integration with SLS

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."           

Aerojet Rocketdyne photo via NASA:

Aerojet Rocketdyne photo via NASA:

RS-25 Flight Controller Testing Continues!

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."

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SLS-Orion Spin Offs

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."

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