Monday April 22, 2019
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NASA fires up engine to take astronauts to Mars

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Washington: As part of its ambitious Space Launch System (SLS), the US space agency has successfully tested an engine that will help propel astronauts on future deep-space missions, including Mars.

Photo Credit: www.ubergizmo.com
Photo Credit: www.ubergizmo.com

The 535-second test of RS-25 rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, was aimed to collect engine performance data, the US space agency said in a statement.

An initial 77-tonne SLS configuration will use four RS-25 engines for the core stage, along with two five-segment solid rocket boosters, providing more lift to orbit than any current launch vehicle.

One final test of this RS-25 developmental engine is left and testing of flight engines will begin later this fall.

The core stage for the first SLS and Orion integrated flight will also be tested at Stennis.

That test will involve simultaneous firing of the four RS-25 engines just as during an actual launch.

Powered by four RS-25 engines, the SLS will send the Orion spacecraft into deep space missions.

“The RS-25 engine gives SLS a proven, high performance, affordable main propulsion system for deep space exploration,” NASA said.

It is one of the most experienced large rocket engines in the world, with more than a million seconds of ground test and flight operations time.

When completed, SLS will enable astronauts to begin their journey to explore destinations far into the solar system.
During the joint Senate-NASA presentation in September 2011, it was stated that the SLS programme has a projected development cost of $18 billion through 2017.

It will be divided into $10 billion for the SLS rocket, $6 billion for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and $2 billion for upgrades to the launch pad and other facilities at the Kennedy Space Center.

(IANS)

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

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SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)