Testing of engines for NASA’s Space Launch System completed


Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed testing the 16 RS-25 engines and flight controllers to be used on the first four flights of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS).

The successful 500-second hot fire test of Engine 2062 was conducted last week at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

The 16 engines include 14 left over from the Space Shuttle program and two new ones built from spare components.

Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president said, “Generating 512,000 lbs of thrust, the RS-25 engine is a modern marvel, making it the ideal engine to power the SLS.

“We’ve made a major technological leap with modern, upgraded flight controllers. The new controller has 20 times the processing capability of the shuttle-era controller and weighs 50 lbs less.”

The flight controller is a key component of the RS-25 engine and enables communication between the rocket and the engine, relaying commands and transmitting performance data. Additionally, the controller regulates thrust and fuel mixture ratio while monitoring the engine’s overall health and status.

The first launch of the Space Launch System as part of Exploration Mission 1, which will see the Orion Crew vehicle orbit the Moon, has been delayed several times, with the most recent June 2020 date now looking doubtful according to reports.

Each launch uses four RS-25 engines. All four engines required for Exploration Mission-1 are complete and ready for integration into the core stage, as is the RL10 engine used on the rocket’s upper stage.

The four RS-25 engines for Exploration Mission-2 are scheduled to be complete in September of this year.

“The excitement is building for the debut flight of SLS,” added Drake. “With today’s test, we are ensuring NASA’s new SLS rocket has the propulsion it needs for future flights carrying humans and cargo to multiple deep space destinations.”

Last September, Aerojet Rocketdyne hot-fired one of the two remaining engines which had never flown before, Engine 2063.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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