The Space Launch System, designed to send astronauts on the trip to Mars, will be tested next week in Promontory, Utah. NASA will organize a live transmission of the event.
The SLS underwent several tests in a controlled environment. The exercise on Tuesday will be the last one of the series, preparing the first test flight in 2018.
The test will be followed by a media teleconference that will analyze the results of the booster firing. The participants will include Bill Gerstenmaier from NASA, Charlie Precourt from Orbital ATK nd Alex Priskos from the Marshall Space Flight Center.
NASA says that the first test was completed in March 2015, and the results showed high performance at the required temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The booster must be tested at both ends of extreme temperatures sustained by the engine in order to register the effects on the propellant’s ballistic performance.
The previous high-temperature test included two minutes of booster firing that produced 3.6 million pounds of thrust. During the exercise, the temperature inside the booster rose to 5,600 degrees, and the device successfully sustained the challenge.
The Tuesday’s test will verify the other end of the temperature range. The engineers will create the conditions necessary for a testing at the temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the lower limit of the thermal requirements of the booster design.
The device performance will be monitored through hundreds of instrumentation channels that will be delivering information on strict design objectives.
The rocket boosters have 177 feet in length, and they will operate at the same time as the engine to help the rocket be propelled into the sky and overpower Earth’s gravitational force. Each booster was designed to burn 5 tons of propellant per second.
The 2018 flight test will include a trip with no passengers beyond the low-Earth orbit. The rocket will be carried by an Orion spacecraft and will be configured for a 70-metric-ton lift capacity. For the actual space mission, the device will be configured to provide a 130 metric ton lift capability, which has never before been reached.
SLS is built in partnership with Orbital ATK. The construction of the rocket involves more than 500 supplies around the country.
Boeing is the primary contractor for the design, development, and production in the cryogenic stages and developer of avionics suite of the Space Launch System.
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