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NASA Test Fires SLS Engines, Says 5 Year Target for Moon Return Possible

In the final days of March, vice president Mike Pence asked on behalf of the current U.S. administration that American astronauts return to the Moon by 2024. The American space agency quickly embraced the idea.
Rs-25 SLS engine in action 4 photos
NASA SLS RS-25 engines test fireNASA SLS RS-25 engines test fireNASA SLS RS-25 engines test fire
There are currently several technologies NASA can use to launch things for the Lunar orbit, as rockets are aplenty, including ones operated by private companies. What’s more, NASA is working on its own super-heavy lift rocket.

Called Space Launch System, or SLS, the rocket is the result of a joint effort of Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman, and Aerojet Rocketdyne. Powering it will be RS-25 engines supplied by Aerojet.

This week, the flight engine went through yet another hot fire test at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, four years after work on the unit began. And it was a successful test as it proved the engines can operate at power levels needed to get the SLS off the ground. 

“This completes four years of focused work by an exceptional Stennis test team,” said in a statement Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech.

“It represents yet another chapter in Stennis’ long history of testing leadership and excellence in support of this nation’s space exploration efforts. Everyone involved should feel proud of their work and contributions.”

This week’s test is not the first for the engine. The first hot fire test took place in 2015, with an 8 minutes burn of the development engine. The flight engine was first tested in 2016, and 30 more tests followed, totaling more than four hours of burn time.

NASA says it will use the SLS to return astronauts to the Moon, but, as said, it’s not rockets the agency has to worry about, but space capsules capable of carrying humans.

There are three such vehicles in development right now: the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the Boeing Starliner and NASA’s Orion. Of the three, only one has been tested in flight so far, the Crew Dragon.

press release

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