NASA Delays SLS Test Fire #2 After Finding Faulty Propulsion System Valve

The 212-foot-tall (64.6-meter) SLS core stage of the Area Launch System (SLS) has been present process Inexperienced Run testing within the B-2 Check Stand at NASA’s Stennis Area Middle in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Picture Credit score: NASA

NASA and Boeing have referred to as off this week’s deliberate Feb 25 second check hearth of the house company’s mammoth SLS moon rocket core stage, following inspections and checkouts over the weekend which found considered one of eight valves (referred to as a prevalve) not working correctly. The valves are a part of the core stage’s essential propulsion system that provides liquid oxygen to every of 4 RS-25 engines.

The newest delay comes following a a lot shorter than anticipated debut check hearth of 212 foot tall core stage simply weeks in the past at Stennis Area Middle in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. The deliberate 8-minute check hearth barely made it previous 1-minute, earlier than an computerized shutdown was triggered by deliberately conservative check parameters, based on a NASA.

“In the course of the first scorching hearth, all 4 liquid oxygen valves carried out as anticipated as did the 4 liquid hydrogen valves,” says NASA. “NASA and the core stage lead contractor Boeing will determine a path ahead within the days forward and reschedule the new hearth check that was initially scheduled for Feb. 25.”

“That is the largest check NASA has run in 50 years,” stated SLS Program Supervisor John Honeycutt of the Marshall Area Flight Middle (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala. He underlined the intentional conservatism of the check parameters following the primary check hearth, since “this isn’t only a check article, it’s the flight article”.

As outlined intimately beforehand on AmericaSpace by Ben Evans, the SLS Sizzling Hearth Check is the eighth and final step in the “Green Run”, a year-long campaign to wring out the Core Stage’s myriad systems forward of the rocket’s maiden voyage and the uncrewed Artemis-1 mission around the Moon, probably as quickly as late 2021 or early 2022.

Aerojet Rocketdyne has contributed a number of propulsive parts to the Area Launch System (SLS) and Orion autos. Most seen are the 4 RS-25 core-stage engines, which can present round 25 % of the muscle to get the enormous rocket off the launch pad. Picture Credit score: NASA

5 “purposeful” assessments to validate the rocket’s Steering, Navigation and Management (GNC) methods, consider its avionics and security methods and take a look at its Fundamental Propulsion System (MPS), Thrust Vector Management (TVC) and hydraulics had been accomplished between January and September 2020. Passable completion of those steps allowed Stennis groups to press into three “operational” assessments, beginning last fall, which noticed the Core Stage put by way of a mock countdown, fueled with its full load of propellants in a so-called “Moist Costume Rehearsal” (WDR) and all 4 RS-25 engines hot-fired.

Authentic plans referred to as for the 4 engines—all of that are refurbished Area Shuttle Fundamental Engines (SSMEs), with over 1.1 million seconds’ value of “burn-time” and a complete of 25 shuttle missions to their credit score—to be fired for as much as 485 seconds, approximating as intently as attainable the circumstances that they’ll encounter throughout the raging, eight-minute climb to orbit on an actual mission.

To imitate the passage by way of a interval of most aerodynamic turbulence (“Max Q”), a couple of minute after liftoff, the RS-25s had been to be throttled again from their most 109-percent thrust stage to 95 % for about 30 seconds, then returned to full energy. It was additionally anticipated that the engines can be “gimbaled” underneath TVC management to show their steering capabilities.

The core stage of the primary Area Launch System (SLS), destined for Artemis-1, is at the moment approaching the top of Inexperienced Run testing. Picture Credit score: NASA

As the primary check hearth acquired underway and all 4 engines got here alive, the primary minute of secure thrust proceeded with out incident. Then at 60 seconds, the pre-planned gimbaling check of the engines underneath TVC management acquired underway. Duty for gimbaling every engine fell to the TVC actuators, every powered by a Core Stage Auxiliary Energy Unit (CAPU).

At roughly 61 seconds, CAPU-2—serving the Core Stage’s No. 2 engine—detected low hydraulic fluid ranges and after a collection of verification checks over the following two or three milliseconds to validate this studying, it shut itself down. The opposite three CAPUs momentarily elevated their hydraulic pressures to 105 % to compensate for this evolving scenario. CAPU-2 then commanded the Core Stage flight laptop to close down the opposite engines. This was executed safely over the following few seconds and the Sizzling Hearth Check ended after 67.2 seconds, which represented lower than 15 % of a full-flight-duration burn.

Summing up the primary check hearth, NASA famous that—had it been a “actual” flight—the CAPU margins would have been larger and CAPU-2 would have continued to operate nominally. “The precise logic that stopped the check is exclusive to the bottom check, the place the Core Stage is mounted within the B-2 Check Stand at Stennis,” NASA defined. “If this situation occurred throughout a flight, the rocket would have continued to fly utilizing the remaining CAPUs to energy the Thrust Vector Management methods for the engines.”

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