When most rocket engines go off, they go to places. But not the RS-25.
NASA anchored its RS-25 booster engine this week – one of four for its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket – firmly on the ground for a spectacular test that boosted it to 113 percent thrust level for 50 days. full seconds. This was its highest level to date after several similar test fires.
The captured shots of cameras placed around the test site at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi show the amazing power of the engine as it fills the surrounding area with a mass of condensed water vapor and enough noise to wake up the neighbors .
The RS-25 engines were used in the space shuttle program that ended in 2011, and have been modified to provide the additional power needed for the largest and heaviest SLS rocket. It is one of the most tested large rocket engines so far, according to NASA, with more than 3,000 starts and more than a million seconds of total ground test and firing time in flight.
Four RS-25 engines will provide two million combined pounds of thrust for the first SLS launch, which is expected for 2019, but with a pair of additional solid rocket boosters this increases to a phenomenal 8 million pounds. To give it some context, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy amplifiers generated around 5 million pounds of thrust when it was launched earlier this month.
The SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world when it becomes operational, beating the Saturn V that took astronauts to the moon before the rocket was retired in 1973.
The Exploration Mission SLS-1 (EM- 1) NASA, planned for next year, will serve as the inaugural flight for the new rocket and deploy an unscrewed Orion spacecraft – Earth in orbit to test the performance of the integrated system.
"As the SLS evolves, it will provide unprecedented lift capacity … to allow missions even further into our solar system," NASA said.
Looking to the future, the EM-2 flight, scheduled for 2022 if everything goes according to plan, will bring a crew of astronauts aboard Orion for the first time. The mission could include a trip around the moon that will last up to three weeks and involve the delivery of parts for a new space station to aid in the exploration of deep space.