NASA’s mission to Mars has the Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-25 Engine complete. And it is ready for service.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed its first verification test via the RS-25 engine, previously known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME). NASA’s pride knows no limits. Its space launch system will get launched thanks to this arrangement. The test launch completed today is the sixth of seven such tests.
The engine is ready for action. It will get employed aboard the NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) in 2018. The engine is the largest of its kind. It will deliver force of the kind hitherto unimagined by mankind.
It is great to see this revered engine back in action and progressing full steam ahead for launch aboard Exploration Mission-1 in 2018," said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Aerojet Rocketdyne's Advanced Space & Launch Programs business unit.
"The RS-25 is the world's most reliable and thoroughly tested large liquid-fueled rocket engine ever built."
This engine has powered the space shuttle on its journeys. That is between space stations and earth. It has proved its reliability over three decades. By burning liquid hydrogen and oxygen the exhaust fumes left behind by this engine are pure steam.
Thus it causes no pollution whatsoever. The engines that will get used on the mission are getting refurbished and revamped. They will serve the goal quite well. After all, this is the means of reaching Mars. And having the first human colony settle on its surface is no mean feat. The need for speed is paramount in NASA’s plans for Mars.
The RS-25 handles a wide range of temperatures – super-cold on top, super-hot at the bottom.
"The engine that was tested today, development engine 0525, continues demonstration of the new controller's functionality and the engine's ability to perform to SLS requirements," added Jim Paulsen, vice president, Program Execution, Advanced Space & Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne.
"We are conducting engine testing to ensure all 16 flight engines in our inventory meet flightworthiness requirements for SLS."
Rocketology is the name of the science which this quest is for. Since a rocket engine implies rocket science, it is a fascinating field. The rigors and stresses of spaceflight are many. And they demand that the utmost in care and cost-effective fuel economy get applied.
The task at hand is singular in nature. The extreme conditions encountered in outer space are harsh. They do not allow for the slightest margin of error. Escaping our planet’s gravitational field is a task.
A space engine has to keep up the orbital velocity at a max. The speed limits of 17,000 mph are reached no matter what. And that takes a lot of thrust and sheer raw horsepower.
"The new controller provides modern electronics, architecture and software," said Paulsen. "It will improve reliability and safety for the SLS crew as well as the ability to readily procure electronics for decades to come."
Sometimes the engine has to produce greater speeds. For that even more energy in the form of extra high octane fuel is required. The temperatures of the exploding fuel may go as high as 6000 degrees centigrade. That is a living hell in the furnace that is the engine. The quatrad of turbo pumps that drive the engine are the main crux of the space journey equation.
The inner mechanics of the rocket engine are quite complex. This is a multi-billion dollar project with the lives of people at stake who board the mission to Mars. No chances could get taken. So everything is tested.
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"SLS is the vehicle that will take astronauts to Mars and pre-position cargo for their survival," said Van Kleeck. "It is great to see that the red planet is one step closer and know our Aerojet Rocketdyne team is helping make that dream a reality."