The largest piece of structural test hardware for America’s new deep space rocket, the Space Launch System, was loaded into Test Stand 4693 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama Jan. 14, 2019. The liquid hydrogen tank is part of the rocket’s core stage that is more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, and stores cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. The liquid hydrogen tank test article is structurally identical to the flight version of the tank that will comprise two-thirds of the core stage and hold 537,000 gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen at minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit. Dozens of hydraulic cylinders in the 215-foot-tall test stand will push and pull the tank, subjecting it to the same stresses and loads it will endure during liftoff and flight.
NASA’s Space Launch System Block 1 70-metric-ton
This artist illustration identifies the major parts of NASA’s Space Launch System
Meet the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage for NASA’s Space Launch System
The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) stands suspended in a silo-like structure at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This graphic shows what the ICPS looks like from inside the tower.
149-foot SLS Test Article Built at Michoud Assembly Facility
To create the liquid hydrogen tank structural test article, engineers built a tank identical to the Space Launch System tank that will be flown on Exploration Mission-1, the first flight of SLS and the Orion spacecraft.
SLS Engine Section Test Article Loaded on Barge Pegasus
A engine section structural qualification test article for NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, is loaded onto the barge Pegasus at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The test article now will make its way from Michoud to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for structural loads testing.
Structural Test Version of the Intertank for NASA’s New Deep Space Rocket
The intertank is the second piece of structural hardware for the massive Space Launch System core stage, built at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and delivered to Marshall Space Flight Center for testing.
Liquid Oxygen Tank Flight Undergoing First SLS Hydrostatic Test
The liquid oxygen tank–shown here as technicians inside the tank complete final welds to plug holes left by the robotic welder– is undergoing the first hydrostatic testing for NASA’s deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).
NASA’s Space Launch System Design ‘Right on Track’ for Journey to Mars
Image Credit: NASA/Tyler Martin