Video of the week: SLS undergoes successful static fire test

This week’s video comes from Utah where a full-scale static fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket motor has successfully taken place.

The test forms part of NASA’s Artemis Lunar programme, which includes sending astronauts to the Moon and beyond in 2024.

Lunar lift-off

During the test at Northrop Grumman’s site in Promontory, the 154-foot-long, five-segment rocket motor fired for just over two minutes, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust. Northrop Grumman developed the motor and said that two SLS boosters will provide over 75 per cent of the initial thrust for an SLS launch.

“NASA’s Artemis missions, powered by Northrop Grumman boosters, will push the boundaries of what is possible for human exploration in space,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “We have built, qualified and delivered flight hardware for Artemis I, and we are committed to the continuous improvement and testing of our products to provide the best solid propulsion to fuel NASA’s missions.”

NASA and Northrop Grumman successfully conducted a full-scale static fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket motor, known as Flight Support Booster (FSB-1), in Promontory, Utah, on Sep. 2 (Image: NASA)

Northrop Grumman said it based the latest motor on ‘the flight-proven design of the space shuttle boosters with enhanced technologies and updated materials to support NASA’s most powerful rocket to date.’ The company added that the new five-segment booster provides 20 per cent greater average thrust than the shuttle boosters, aiding in the SLS rocket’s ability to deliver greater mass and volume by generating greater departure energy than any existing launch vehicle.

Northrop Grumman has delivered the first set of rocket motor segments for Artemis I boosters. The second set of motors for the Artemis II boosters are nearly complete, and rocket motor segments for Artemis III are in production. Materials evaluated in the test on September 2, 2020 could be used in missions following Artemis III, which plans to land astronauts on the Moon starting in 2024.