NASA test fires SLS RS-25 engine at Stennis, validating new manufacturing process

NASA recently conducted an important 8-minute RS-25 single-engine hot fire test at Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. Space Launch System (SLS) relies on four RS-25 engines (and two solid rocket boosters) to leave the planet for destinations like the Moon and beyond as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

This is the sixth of seven planned RS-25 hot fire tests being conducted at Stennis Space Center.

During the test, NASA fires off the RS-25 engine for 500 seconds (over 8 minutes) to match the duration of firing during an SLS launch. These tests are conducted with NASA’s A-1 Test Stand.

This particular test also validates a new manufacturing process for RS-25 engine components, as NASA explains:

Along with providing performance data to Aerojet Rocketdyne, lead contractor for the SLS engines, the Aug. 5 test enabled the team to evaluate new engine components manufactured with cutting-edge and cost-saving technologies, eliminate operating risks, and enhance engine production.

In addition to operating the engine at 109% of its original power level for extended periods during the hot fire, NASA verified new manufacturing processes while evaluating the performance of the engine’s low-pressure fuel turbopump. The pump significantly boosts the pressure of liquid hydrogen delivered to the high-pressure fuel turbopump to help prevent cavitating, the forming of “bubbles” or “voids”, which can collapse or cause shock waves that may damage machinery.

Watch the footage captured from the RS-25 hot fire test:

Four of these RS-25 engines will be used to power NASA’s SLS rocket. The first launch is planned for late this year on the Artemis 1 mission to test that the rocket and Orion capsule are safe for crewed flight.

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