NASA lights humongous rocket that goes nowhere ... until 2019

Third Space Launch System engine controller declared a success

Vid If you have a hankering to watch eight minutes of billowing clouds of rocket exhaust, NASA's posted the video of the latest test of its RS-25 engine.

The RS-25 is, as NASA-watchers know, the power-plant the agency is developing to shove its planned Space Launch System skywards.

Yesterday's test was the third time NASA's run up a rocket motor to test the flight controller that'll be in charge of the engines.

Its role is to relay commands from the vehicle to the engine, and data from engine to vehicle. The controller, NASA explains here, also provides closed-loop engine management to regulate thrust and fuel mixture and monitor engine health.

The SLS uses the same engine design as used to help hoist Space Shuttles, but the agency decided the motor's “brains” needed a refresh – most importantly, because the electronic components of the 1980s aren't available any more.

Hence the need for tests like this one:

Youtube Video

NASA says the 500-second test means the controller and engine are paired up for the same time as will be needed in a live launch.

When the SLS takes to space, currently expected in 2019, it will ride on four RS-25 motors providing two million pounds of thrust, “working in conjunction with a pair of solid rocket boosters to produce up to eight million pounds of thrust”.

This was the third controller test: the previous two happened in March and May. ®

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