NASA engineers have completed structural qualification tests on the Space Launch System‘s core stage engine section at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
The rocket’s four RS-25 engines and two solid rocket booster attachments will compose the engine section located beneath the SLS’ 212-foot-tall core stage, NASA said Saturday.
The engine section is designed to generate more than eight million pounds of thrust when launched for flight missions to the moon, Mars and other deep-space destinations.
NASA built the engine section’s structural test unit at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, then collaborated with Boeing, the prime contractor on the SLS core stage, to conduct the tests at MSFC.
Engineers place the hardware in a 50-foot, 1.7 million-pound test stand and tested the structure using hydraulic cylinders to generate millions of pounds in force.
The test platform used a cryogenic supply system that simulated very cold temperatures of SLS’ liquid hydrogen tank.
Flight loads were simulated through the use of more than 50 actuators, the agency noted.
NASA verified the capacities of the engine section and downcomer after agency engineers analyzed more than 3,000 data channels for each test case.