NASA has been dealing with a spate of hot flashes this summer.
The space agency recently concluded a series of hot-fire tests of the flight controllers for some of the engines designed for the deep-space launch vehicle it has under development with Boeing.
The SLS-Orion is no mere next-gen spacecraft but a high-profile and pricey gambit aimed at taking the U.S. space program to Mars and beyond with manned missions of unprecedented ambition.
NASA said Aug. 31 it had staged the fifth in a series of a hot-fire tests of the RS-25 engine’s flight controller unit at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.
“The controller serves as the ‘brain’ of the engine, communicating with SLS flight computers to ensure engines are performing at needed levels,” the space agency said. “The test marked another step toward the nation’s return to human deep-space exploration missions.”
The first flight-controller test was staged in March, and NASA followed up with a series of similar tests throughout the summer.
The SLS, or Space Launch System, has four RS-25 engines and two solid rocket boosters, providing a total thrust at liftoff of more than 8 million pounds. The RS-25 engines designated for use on the initial SLS missions are former space shuttle main engines modified to provide substantially greater thrust, and the new flight controllers are a key component of the modified engines.
NASA said aerospace contractors including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell and Syncom Space Services assisted in various aspects of its engine-testing and related components tests at Stennis.