NASA has conducted the successful 420-second testing of an RS-25 engine, which will help power the core stage of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
The new SLS rocket will be powered at launch by four RS-25 engines like the one tested, firing in conjunction with a pair of solid rocket boosters. NASA has conducted tests of the new solid propellant booster at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah, while all RS-25 developmental and flight engine tests will be conducted on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St Louis, Mississippi.
RS-25 engines were previously used as space shuttle main engines. Although extensively tested for those flights, the engines now must fire at higher performance levels to power the SLS. The development tests at Stennis are providing key data on engine performance.
The tests also are collecting data on the performance of a new engine controller unit, which controls internal engine functions during operation and enables proper communication between the SLS and the engine.
During the test, the engine was run through a range of varying conditions and operating parameters. For instance, operators used an extended low-flow chill down process for the engine prior to the test, and also experimented with a high-pressure start process.
A special engine controller wiring configuration was tested, and the engine was fired at ranges of 80-111% power during the test. Test data on engine and controller performance was provided by the facility team at twice the normal rate.
This latest test is the third in a six-test developmental series. Future tests are scheduled for this autumn and will also focus on gathering performance data on the engine and its new controller. NASA is also continuing to prepare for testing the SLS core stage that will fly on the rocket’s first test flight in 2018. Plans call for installing the stage onto the modified B-2 Test Stand at Stennis and firing its four RS-25 engines simultaneously, just as during an actual launch.
August 26, 2016