SLS rocket booster passes critical static fire test

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The first full-scale static fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System  booster rocket was successfully conducted at a site in Promotory, Utah earlier this month.

The154ft-long, five-segment rocket motor, officially known as Flight Support Booster (FSB-1) was fired for just over two minutes, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust. Two boosters will provide more than 75% percent of the initial thrust when the Space Launch System (SLS) is used launch NASA’s Artemis I mission. which is planned for  November 2021.

The Artemis program aims to run a manned mission to the Moon by 2024. Artemis I will be an uncrewed test flight and the first integrated flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket.

Charlie Precourt, vice president of propulsion systems at Northrop Grumman said, “NASA’s Artemis missions, powered by Northrop Grumman boosters, will push the boundaries of what is possible for human exploration in space.

“We have built, qualified and delivered flight hardware for Artemis I, and we are committed to the continuous improvement and testing of our products to provide the best solid propulsion to fuel NASA’s missions to the moon and beyond.”

The design of the FSB-1 is based on the flight-proven design of the space shuttle boosters with enhanced technologies and updated materials and is NASA’s most powerful rocket developed to date. The  five-segment booster  provides 20% greater average thrust than the shuttle boosters.

Prior to this test, NASA and Northrop Grumman conducted a series of ground tests that began in 2010 to satisfy requirements for certification of the booster. This included evaluation of ballistic parameters and performance of propellant materials from new sources, an upgrade to enable the booster to meet the high performance demands of SLS.

Northrop Grumman has delivered the first set of rocket motor segments for Artemis I boosters. The second set of motors for the Artemis II boosters are nearly complete, and rocket motor segments for Artemis III are in production. Materials evaluated in today’s test could be used in missions following Artemis III.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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