NASA continues testing new engines for redesigned Artemis Moon rocket

NASA is moving on with its Artemis program, which aims to send people back to the Moon while also testing new rocket engines for the Space Launch System (SLS). At NASA’s Stennis Space Center facility based in Mississippi on February 22, engineers hot-fired tested a modified RS-25 engine. The test is a component of a certification program for Aerojet Rocketdyne. Aerojet Rocketdyne is the lead SLS engine contractor, to enable the manufacturing of new RS-25 engines.

The RS-25 engine was run at 111% power for 10 minutes. This is longer than the 500 seconds needed for it to reach space. Operators can test the boundaries of engine performance. In addition, they can offer a margin of safety for flight operations by using longer-duration hot burns. The hot fire is the most recent in a test series being conducted. These tests are meant to approve new production methods and procedures for the RS-25 engine.

The RS-25 engine is among the most advanced and tried-and-true engines in the world. NASA opted to upgrade the 16 main engines it still had after the Space Shuttle Program ended. This was meant to allow usage with the SLS rocket. In order to construct new RS-25 engines for SLS missions after Artemis IV, NASA signed a contract with Aerojet Rocketdyne in 2019. These engines will be produced using cutting-edge techniques including 3D printing to cut down on production time and costs.

In order to get performance data for the new processes, NASA started developmental testing in May 2020. Last year, NASA Stennis updated its Fred Haise Test Stand. This was in order to get ready for the new round of testing. The first test of an RS-25 engine with a new design was carried out by NASA on February 8. The next 12-test series will show that Aerojet Rocketdyne is equipped to create engines for upcoming missions.

NASA wants to establish a long-lasting presence on the Moon with its ongoing Artemis missions. In addition, NASA intends to build the skills and equipment required for trips to other deep space locations. The organization intends to build an orbiting Gateway home around the Moon to enable lunar missions and get ready for Martian missions.

An essential part of the SLS rocket, that will make it the most powerful rocket in existence, is the RS-25 engine. NASA Stennis will conduct tests on each RS-25 engine that contributes to the SLS’s propulsion. NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Syncom Space Services operators work together to conduct RS-25 testing at the location.

The RS-25 engine modification represents a significant advancement for NASA’s Artemis program. The first Artemis mission is set to debut in 2024. The mission has reached a crucial turning point with the hot fire test completion. The upgraded engines will aid in supporting future Artemis missions. Also, it will enable human exploration of the Moon and beyond as NASA continues to discover the mysteries of the universe.