Testing the Limits

SLS rocket tanks undergo tests for launch

August 27, 2019 in Space

Space Launch System (SLS) liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks undergo testing this month at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to ensure that the structures can withstand launch and ascent, including stresses of vibration and pressure. The first tank that will be tested is the liquid hydrogen tank.

The tanks are part of a core stage that will be the largest rocket stage in existence since Boeing and heritage companies Douglas and North American built the Saturn V rocket stages in the same Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans.

During launch, four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines at the bottom of the rocket’s 212-foot core stage will fire nonstop for 8.5 minutes, providing 2 million of the total 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust at liftoff. The tests at Marshall will simulate the effects of that thrust to ensure vehicle and future astronaut safety.

As Boeing preps the flight hardware at MAF, test teams in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi are validating the hardware and systems. All this will ensure a safe flight when SLS launches uncrewed lunar-orbit mission Artemis 1.