NASA prepares to fire up engines on 'the most powerful rocket ever built'

NASA prepares to fire up engines on 'the most powerful rocket ever built'

Shafaq News/ NASA's massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will one day take astronauts to the Moon and Mars is to undergo its final 'hot fire' engine test later this month.

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

The rocket has already undergone a number of static engine tests and the next trial - the hot fire test - will happen at some point from January 17.

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 the 2030s. 

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

NASA held a 'wet dress rehearsal' for the hot fire test on December 20 at the Stennis Space Center near St Louis, Mississippi - this involved fully loading liquid propellant into the SLS core stage and then draining it.

The hot fire test on January 17 marks the culmination of the year-long Green Run - a series of checks on the flight-readiness of the massive SLS ahead of launch.

The hot fire test replicates the normal launch process by loading the propellants and allowing them to flow throughout the system as the four engines fire  

'During our wet dress rehearsal Green Run test, the core stage, the stage controller, and the Green Run software all performed flawlessly,' said Julie Bassier from NASA.

Adding that 'there were no leaks when the tanks were fully loaded and replenished for approximately two hours.' 

The hot fire test will demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system and software perform together as needed for launch day. 

The core stage of the SLS will fly on the Artemis 1 mission - the first full test flight of the giant rocket and the Orion crew capsule.

As part of that space flight the SLS will launch Orion into space where it will fly to the Moon and back without astronauts on board- scheduled to launch late in 2021.

Artemis 2 is scheduled for August 2023 - the SLS will launch the Orion capsule to the Moon with a crew of astronauts - the first crewed spacecraft to go beyond Earth orbit since 1972. 

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

NASA hopes to use SLS to launch parts of the Lunar Gateway space station - that will orbit the Moon over the coming years, with it becoming operational by 2030.

The system will also help send equipment to the Moon for the development of a permanent base on the Moon in the coming decades.

Source: Daily Mail

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