NASA schedules second test fire at Stennis

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NASA to begin new RS-25 engine test series for future Artemis missions.

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — NASA is set to begin a new round of tests for development of RS-25 engines that will help power the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future missions to the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

The first test of the new series is set for Jan. 28 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., and unlike recent tests conducted two weeks ago, this will be a single-engine test instead of the simultaneous four-engine firings on Jan. 16.

The test will be streamed live on NASA TV.

The seven-test series will use RS-25 developmental engine No. 0528 and will provide valuable data for Aerojet Rocketdyne, prime contractor for the SLS engines, as it begins production of new RS-25 engines for use after the first four SLS flights.

Operators will focus on evaluating new engine components and reducing risk in engine operation. They also will fire the engine through a range of operating conditions to demonstrate and verify its capabilities.

The upcoming test series will provide data to enhance production of new RS-25 engines and several engine components that are being manufactured with cutting-edge and cost-saving technologies.

RS-25 developmental engine No. 0528 is hoisted onto the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center on Nov. 19, 2020. Operators have scheduled a hot fire test of the engine, in reparation for a new series of tests focused on providing data for the development of new RS-25 engines for future Space Launch System missions.

Operators also will demonstrate engine gimbaling capabilities, using a newly installed A-1 Test Stand thrust vector control system. “Gimbaling” refers to how the engine must move on a tight circular axis in order to ensure proper flight trajectory.

“We’re going to evaluate these newly designed parts that were made using advanced manufacturing techniques,” said Johnny Heflin, SLS liquid engines manager at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, where the SLS Program is based.

“This test series will prove that the RS-25 production restart engines can be built with the same high performance but with more affordability. This is a big milestone that will greatly contribute to the future sustainability of SLS.”

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