NASA on a Strong Roll in Preparing Space Launch System Flight Engines

From:  Stennis News Release   8/9/17   GCN


NASA is on a roll when it comes to testing engines for its new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send astronauts to deep-space destinations, including Mars.


Just two weeks after the third test of a new RS-25 engine flight controller, the space agency recorded its fourth full-duration controller test Aug. 9 at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.


Engineers conducted a 500-second test of the RS-25 engine controller on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis. The test involved installing the controller on an RS-25 development engine and firing it in the same manner, and for the same length of time, as needed during an actual SLS launch.


The test marked another milestone toward launch of the first integrated flight of the SLS rocket and Orion crew vehicle. Exploration Mission-1 will be an uncrewed mission into lunar orbit, designed to provide a final check-out test of rocket and Orion capabilities before astronauts are returned to deep space.


The SLS rocket will be powered at launch by four RS-25 engines, providing a combined 2 million pounds of thrust, and with a pair of solid rocket boosters, providing more than 8 million pounds of total thrust. The RS-25 engines for the initial SLS flights are former space shuttle main engines that are now being used to launch the larger and heavier SLS rocket and with the new controller.


The controller is a critical component that operates as the engine “brain” that communicates with SLS flight computers to receive operation performance commands and to provide diagnostic data on engine health and status. Engineers conducted early prototype tests at Stennis to collect data for development of the new controller by NASA, RS-25 prime contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne and subcontractor Honeywell.


Testing of actual flight controllers began at Stennis in March. NASA is testing all controllers and engines designated for the EM-1 flight at Stennis. It also will test the SLS core stage for the flight at Stennis, which will involve installing the stage on the B-2 Test Stand and firing its four RS-25 engines simultaneously, as during an actual launch.


 RS-25 tests at Stennis are conducted by a team of NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services engineers and operators. Aerojet Rocketdyne is the RS-25 prime contractor. Syncom Space Services is the prime contractor for Stennis facilities and operations.









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