Science

The SLS base-stage missile will undergo critical tests this month

NASA is currently working on a massive rocket called the Space Launch System, or SLS. We mentioned last month that the massive missile was about to undergo some critical testing. The SLS base stage was set for further testing this month and is still on the B-2 test stand at Stennis Space Center. The massive missile has a height of 212 feet and is more powerful than any missile in use since the 1960s.

The Upcoming tests It is part of Green Run that aims to sort the missile from any faults prior to its maiden flight scheduled for November 2021. Green Run has been divided into eight parts, and the SLS team has been undergoing testing since the start of the year. In the fifth test case, the team performed gimballing on the engines, where they are hydraulically driven to allow trajectory correction during flight.

There are two main stages remaining, with the number seven known as the wet dress rehearsal. This test involves filling the primary stage tanks with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The missile contains 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 200,000 gallons of liquid oxygen. The extremely cold propellant will be transferred from barges to the base stage tanks for 6.5 hours.

Engineers will collect data during testing for comparison with mathematical models to determine if the entire system is behaving as expected. The team will also simulate a large countdown during rehearsal with launch kick-off to the 33-second mark before launch. The eighth and final test is called the hot fire test. With the base stage installed on the rack, the fire test will ignite and fire four RS-25 engines together for the first time.

The engines will run for a full burn. The engines develop 1.6 million pounds of thrust, and the engine shoots into a huge bucket of plenty of water to prevent it from melting the metal frame to which the rocket is attached. If all goes well, the first test flight will take place next year.

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