NASA and Northrop Grumman teams ignited a massive solid rocket booster in Utah on Wednesday, kicking off a two-minute test of the hardware slated to power upcoming versions of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.
At 3:05 p.m. Eastern, the five-segment booster roared to life with 3.6 million pounds of thrust in Promontory, located northwest of Salt Lake City, for a roughly two-minute hotfire demonstration. All appeared to go well, but teams will evaluate data from the test moving forward.
Wednesday’s event, known as the Flight Support Booster-1 test, is expected to provide data and experience to help engineers design improvements for future versions. The SLS SRB is the largest in the world.
On the Space Coast, meanwhile, teams continue to work on booster segments that arrived at Kennedy Space Center in June. When linked together to form the 177-foot SRB, two complete boosters will eventually power SLS’ first uncrewed launch from pad 39B no earlier than late 2021 or early 2022. That will mark the first mission for NASA’s Artemis program, which is targeting a return to human lunar missions in 2024.
At a combined 7.2 million pounds of thrust, SLS’ two side boosters provide some 75% of the system’s total output. The Boeing-built core stage uses former space shuttle main engines to provide the rest.
“I know what it’s like to fly the space shuttle rocket boosters and these five-segment boosters will add far greater capability than the shuttle had,” Charlie Precourt, a former astronaut and Northrop Grumman’s vice president of propulsion systems, said during Wednesday’s webcast. “I’d love to ride on the SLS and can’t wait to hear the experiences of the first SLS astronaut crew.”
Contact Emre Kelly at [email protected] or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly. Support his space journalism by subscribing at floridatoday.com/specialoffer/.
World news – GB – NASA, Northrop Grumman test fire powerful SLS solid rocket booster in Utah