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NASA's Boeing moon rocket cuts short 'once-in-a-generation' ground test


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NASA's Boeing moon rocket cuts short 'once-in-a-generation' ground test

By Joey Roulette

 

2021-01-16T130822Z_1_LYNXMPEH0F0BP_RTROPTP_4_SPACE-EXPLORATION-SLS.JPG

FILE PHOTO: NASA's Space Launch System mobile launcher stands atop Launch Pad 39B for months of testing before it will launch the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft on mission Artemis 1 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Thom Baur/File Photo

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NASA's deep space exploration rocket built by Boeing briefly ignited all four engines of its behemoth core stage for the first time on Saturday, cutting short a crucial test to advance a years-delayed U.S. government program to return humans to the moon in the next few years.

 

Mounted in a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the Space Launch System’s (SLS) 212-foot tall core stage roared to life at 4:27 p.m. local time (2227 GMT) for just over a minute — well short of the roughly four minutes engineers needed to stay on track for the rocket's first launch in November this year.

 

"Today was a good day," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a press conference after the test, adding "we got lots of data that we're going to be able to sort through" to determine if a do-over is needed and whether a November 2021 debut launch date is still possible.

 

The engine test, the last leg of NASA’s nearly year-long “Green Run” test campaign, was a vital step for the space agency and its top SLS contractor Boeing before a debut unmanned launch later this year under NASA’s Artemis program, the Trump administration’s push to return U.S. astronauts to the moon by 2024.

 

It was unclear whether Boeing and NASA would have to repeat the test, a prospect that could push the debut launch into 2022.

NASA's SLS program manager John Honeycutt, cautioning the data review from the test is ongoing, told reporters the turnaround time for another hot fire test could be roughly one month.

 

To simulate internal conditions of a real liftoff, the rocket’s four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines ignited for roughly one minute and 15 seconds, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust and consuming 700,000 gallons of propellants on NASA’s largest test stand, a massive facility towering 35 stories tall.

 

The expendable super heavy-lift SLS is three years behind schedule and nearly $3 billion over budget. Critics have long argued for NASA to retire the rocket’s shuttle-era core technologies, which have launch costs of $1 billion or more per mission, in favor of newer commercial alternatives that promise lower costs.

 

By comparison, it costs as little as $90 million to fly the massive but less powerful Falcon Heavy rocket designed and manufactured by Elon Musk's SpaceX, and some $350 million per launch for United Launch Alliance's legacy Delta IV Heavy.

 

While newer, more reusable rockets from both companies - SpaceX's Starship and United Launch Alliance's Vulcan - promise heavier lift capacity than the Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy potentially at lower cost, SLS backers argue it would take two or more launches on those rockets to launch what the SLS could carry in a single mission.

 

Reuters reported in October that President-elect Joe Biden's space advisers aim to delay Trump's 2024 goal, casting fresh doubts on the long-term fate of SLS just as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin scramble to bring rival new heavy-lift capacity to market.

 

NASA and Boeing engineers have stayed on a ten-month schedule for the Green Run "despite having significant adversity this year," Boeing's SLS manager John Shannon told reporters this week, citing five tropical storms and a hurricane that hit Stennis, as well as a three-month closure after some engineers tested positive for the coronavirus in March.

 

(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Daniel Wallis)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-01-17
 
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36 minutes ago, rooster59 said:

which have launch costs of $1 billion

I think the money would be much better spend countering the military expansion of China's Communists Party!

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maybe they could try the discount rack behind harbor freight?  i hear they've got great deals on quality, pre-loved long march 4's.

 

https://spacenews.com/china-moves-to-next-stage-of-super-heavy-rocket-development/

 

honestly sad to see what's become of nasa, the guys that put men on the moon back in the day with slide rules and duct tape.

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Oh my, more issues from Boeing. Here's WHY the test was cut short...

 

https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/16/22234891/nasa-sls-green-run-test-hot-fire-shutdown:

 

Around a minute into the NASA broadcast of the test, a voice is heard saying “we did get a MCF [major component failure] on engine 4.” At around the same time, engineers spotted a flash near engine four, said John Honeycutt, NASA’s SLS program manager in a press conference. They think that the flash occurred somewhere near a thermal protection blanket around that engine. The exact cause of the shutdown is still unknown.

A blog post from NASA said that the flight software ended the test. “At this point, the test was fully automated. During the firing, the onboard software acted appropriately and initiated a safe shutdown of the engines,” the statement from NASA says.

Edited by 2530Ubon
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50 minutes ago, ChouDoufu said:

maybe they could try the discount rack behind harbor freight?  i hear they've got great deals on quality, pre-loved long march 4's.

 

https://spacenews.com/china-moves-to-next-stage-of-super-heavy-rocket-development/

 

honestly sad to see what's become of nasa, the guys that put men on the moon back in the day with slide rules and duct tape.

 

Did you see inside Crew Dragon on it's way to the space station?  It's huge All 4 astronauts standing around on the main floor putting on a show.  How many NASA robots and satellites are working on and around Mars?  Elon Musk will launch his 9th Starship prototype shortly. World's biggest diameter rocket. The problems are with Boeing.

 

So China announced some progress on some technologies for a space shuttle like engine that will be used on some future big rocket that may or may not launch  by 2030. The final version of Musk's Starship is on the right.

 

Super_heavy-lift_launch_vehicles.png

 

Edited by rabas
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Boeing have a history of cutting corners for money.

The 737 Max is not the only problem.

This article shows the list of errors from their last test. (They could not even synchronise their clocks!)

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/6/21167883/nasa-boeing-passenger-spacecraft-cst-100-starliner-flight-test

(The company is issuing 61 corrective actions in the meantime for this little debacle.)

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They should have kept Rocketdyne F1 engines that powered Saturn 5 for takeoff. 13 takeoffs and not a single failure. A total of 65 F1 engines used. Story is that they can't replicate F1 anymore. The slide rule engineering of the 60's was to advanced, and a lot of the F1 development went officially undocumented. Kind of barn engineering. A lot of knowledge in engineering and metallurgy gore forever.

With modern materials and knowledge, the son of F1 would be awesome.

Edited by SpaceKadet
Corrected some numbers.
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6 hours ago, rabas said:

 

Did you see inside Crew Dragon on it's way to the space station?  It's huge All 4 astronauts standing around on the main floor putting on a show.  How many NASA robots and satellites are working on and around Mars?  Elon Musk will launch his 9th Starship prototype shortly. World's biggest diameter rocket. The problems are with Boeing.

 

So China announced some progress on some technologies for a space shuttle like engine that will be used on some future big rocket that may or may not launch  by 2030. The final version of Musk's Starship is on the right.

 

Super_heavy-lift_launch_vehicles.png

 

I am a little confused. Where is  Thailand's rocket ship to the moon on that list? 

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