NASA’s Boeing Lunar Rocket Is Ready For “One-Time” Ground Test

NASA’s Boeing-built deep space rocket, Space Launch System (SLS), is set to launch its giant main stage for the first time on Saturday, a crucial test for a delayed US government project of years which faces increasing pressures from emerging private sector technology.

The Space Launch System’s hot fire test, which is expected to begin Saturday at 5:00 PM EST (2200 GMT) at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, concludes a nearly one-year “Green Run” test campaign to validate the project. of the rocket. It is seen as a critical step ahead of a debut unmanned launch later this year under NASA’s Artemis program, the Trump administration’s push to land humans on the moon again by 2024.

Saturday’s test will see the rocket’s four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines ignite for about eight minutes, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust and consuming 700,000 gallons of propellant on a test rig to simulate internal takeoff conditions. “This is a one-time kind of test,” Jim Maser, Senior Vice President of Space at Aerojet Rocketdyne, told Reuters. “This will be the first time that four RS-25s have fired together at the same time.”

The super-heavy consumable SLS is three years behind schedule and nearly $ 3 billion over budget. Critics have long supported NASA’s transition from the core technologies of the rocket shuttle era, which have launch costs equal to or greater than $ 1 billion per mission, to the new commercial alternatives promising lower costs. In comparison, it costs just $ 90 million to fly the massive but less powerful Falcon Heavy from SpaceX by Elon Musk and approximately $ 350 million per launch for United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy.

Although newer, more reusable rockets from Both companies – SpaceX’s Starship and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan – promise a heavier lift than Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy potentially at a lower cost, SLS advocates argue it would take two or more launches on those rockets to launch what SLS could carry on a single mission. Reuters reported in October that President-elect Joe Biden’s space advisors aim to delay Trump’s 2024 target, casting new doubts on the long-term fate of SLS just as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin scramble to bring on market the new rival heavy lifting capacity.

NASA and Boeing engineers maintained a ten-month program for the Green Run “despite having had significant hardships this year,” John Shannon, head of Boeing’s space launch system, told reporters. Shannon cited timeline hiccups that included five tropical storms and a hurricane that engulfed Stennis, as well as a three-month shutdown after engineers tested positive for the coronavirus in March.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

News Highlights:

  • Reuters reported in October that President-elect Joe Biden’s space advisors aim to delay Trump’s 2024 target, casting new doubts on the long-term fate of SLS just as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin scramble to bring on market the new rival heavy lifting capacity. NASA and Boeing engineers maintained a ten-month program for the Green Run “despite having had significant hardships this year,” John Shannon, head of Boeing’s space launch system, told reporters.
  • NASA’s Boeing Lunar Rocket Is Ready For “One-Time” Ground Test