NASA completed the sixth of 12 scheduled RS-25 engine certification tests in a critical series for future flights of the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket as engineers conducted a full-duration hot fire Jan. 27 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The current series builds on previous hot fire testing conducted at NASA Stennis to help certify production of new RS-25 engines by lead contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3 Harris Technologies company. The new engines will help power NASA’s SLS rocket on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond, beginning with Artemis V.
Operators fired the RS-25 engine on the Fred Haise Test Stand for almost eight-and-a-half minutes (500 seconds) – the same amount of time needed to help launch SLS – and at power levels ranging between 80% to 113%. New RS-25 engines will power up to the 111% level to provide additional thrust for launch of SLS. Testing up to the 113% power level provides a margin of operational safety.
Now at the halfway point in the series, teams will install a new certification nozzle on the engine. Installation of the new nozzle will allow engineers to gather additional performance data from a second production unit. Following installation next month, testing will resume at Stennis with six additional hot fires scheduled through March.
For each Artemis mission, four RS-25 engines, along with a pair of solid rocket boosters, power the SLS, producing more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.
Under NASA’s Artemis campaign, the agency will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
(Front Photo: NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 27, marking the halfway point in a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all. NASA/Danny Nowlin)