NASA’s Megarocket Gets Closer to First Launch After Successful Engine Tests

A view of SLS inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, showing the tops of the side rocket boosters.

A view of SLS contained in the Automobile Meeting Constructing at NASA’s Kennedy House Middle, exhibiting the tops of the facet rocket boosters.
Photograph, NASA/Cory Huston

A defective reminiscence chip triggered a downside final yr with NASA’s upcoming House Launch System megarocket—a problem the area company says is now resolved.

A moist costume rehearsal seems to be nearer than ever after a profitable sequence of exams carried out on all 4 RS-25 engine flight controllers, in keeping with a NASA launch, In December 2021, one in every of these flight controllers started to misbehave, however the substitute unit, together with the pre-existing engine controllers, now look like functioning correctly. The issue, seemingly resolved, NASA can now give attention to the ultimate close-outs because it prepares for the inaugural launch of the 332-foot-tall (101-meter) rocket, a mission often known as Artemis 1.

The SLS rocket inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SLS rocket contained in the Automobile Meeting Constructing at NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida.
Photograph, NASA/Frank Michaux

“All 4 engine controllers carried out as anticipated throughout energy up,” in keeping with the NASA assertion, Aerojet Rocketdyne, the developer of the RS-25 engine, has been working with the area company to resolve the issue and help with the just lately concluded exams. The 5.75-million-pound The rocket is at the moment present process built-in testing contained in the Automobile Meeting Constructing at NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida.

The flight controller on engine quantity 4 had to get replaced after it glitched out late final yr. These units talk with the rocket to supply precision management and to report on the well being of every RS-25 engine, which dates again to the House Shuttle program.

NASA traced the reason for the malfunction to a defective reminiscence chip. This chip is simply wanted through the controller start-up sequence, and it has no impression on controller operations other than that lone perform, NASA says. No issues with the three different reminiscence chips had been detected, in what’s a really optimistic signal.

The controller downside compelled NASA to delay the much-anticipated moist costume rehearsal, wherein the rocket will likely be rolled out to Launch Pad 39B and crammed with propellant. That stated, NASA just lately admitted that the sheer quantity of testing can also be answerable for the delays. A moist costume rehearsal was initially scheduled for late January, after which for early February, with the newest phrase that it might occur in March.

Subsequent steps embody pre-flight diagnostics and the ultimate {hardware} closeouts, corresponding to exams with the flight termination system and last-minute installations on the 2 stable rocket boosters. The moist costume rehearsal, along with being a observe run, will present NASA with vital information for evaluating the general efficiency of the system. NASA will set a launch date for Artemis 1 following a profitable moist costume rehearsal. An April launch will not be out of the query, however we’ll maintain off on making any agency predictions.

SLS is a big deal for NASA, as it should allow the upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon and Mars. As soon as full, it is going to be the world’s strongest rocket—a minimum of till SpaceX launches its Absolutely Stacked Starshipwhich is likewise anticipated to go up later this yr.

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