NASA Fires Artemis V Engines for the 8th Time, They Burn at 113 Percent Power Levels

It's been several months since the Artemis I mission to the Moon put through their paces, for the first time, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spaceship. It was, by all intents and purposes, a success, and prompted the American space agency into going all in for the new lunar exploration program.
Artemis V RS-25 engines hot fire test 6 photos
Photo: NASA
Artemis V RS-25 engines hot fire testArtemis V RS-25 engines hot fire testArtemis V RS-25 engines hot fire testArtemis V RS-25 engines hot fire testArtemis V RS-25 engines hot fire test
What that means is that NASA's efforts are not solely focused on Artemis II, the upcoming crewed mission around the Moon, set to depart our planet more than a year from now. Sure, focusing all efforts on the next step of space exploration might seem like the sensible thing to do for the uninitiated, but NASA knows better: for such large programs to succeed, you need to plan ahead, and think far beyond the immediate next step.

So, while some crews are involved in prepping Artemis II, others are focusing on Artemis III, the mission that will actually land people on the Moon. Another group of NASA people and their partners are however involved in paving the way for Artemis V.

That's a mission scheduled to leave our world in 2029, the one that will use a lander made by Blue Origin, not SpaceX. The flight is considered the moment when Artemis moves from "demonstrating NASA’s initial lunar exploration capabilities" to supporting "recurring complex missions in lunar orbit and on the surface as part of the agency's Moon to Mars exploration approach."

The mission will otherwise rely on the same SLS-Orion combo, although it's likely both pieces of hardware will come with different specs than what we have now. Yet the tech, being largely the same, is already in the process of being tested.

NASA is currently in the process of testing the RS-25 engines of the Artemis V rocket's first stage. This week we learned of the eighth test of the 12-test campaign having been completed at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on May 23.

This was a full-duration hot fire test that saw the engines burn for eight and a half minutes. That's the amount of time they are expected to run during launch.

During the procedure, the RS-25 units were recorded to run at 113 percent power levels, just a tad above the 111 percent needed to push the rocket and spacecraft all the way into orbit. The difference was there on purpose, as engineers needed to have a "margin of operational safety during testing."

In their current configuration, the RS-25 engines, four of which go in the first stage of each SLS, can develop a total of 1.6 million pounds of thrust at launch. That amount increases to 2 million pounds of thrust during the ascent stage of each mission.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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