NASA is getting ready to test its modified RS-25 engine at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The RS-25 will be one of four such engines mounted inside NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will power the Orion spacecraft, allowing astronauts to reach and land on Mars, among other deep space missions.
Before NASA can embark on exploring the farthest reaches of our solar system, the RS-25 requires extensive inspection and testing. The Stennis Space Center is home to the A-1 Test Stand, an Apollo-era structure designed to house engines such as the RS-25, enabling scientists and engineers to further assess, modify, and in time, certify the engine for use.
(Image credit: NASA, depicting the RS-25 engine place on the A-1 Test Stand)
According to Steve Wofford, SLS Liquid Engines Element manager, “This test series is a major milestone because it will be our first opportunity to operate the engine with a new controller and to test propellant inlet conditions for SLS that are different than the space shuttle. This testing will confirm the RS-25 will be successful at powering SLS.”
The Rocketdyne RS-25 engine is capable of producing 1,859 kN (418,000 lbf) of thrust at lift off, and burns cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.
The following images showcase the RS-25 engine in its various developmental stages:
The RS-25 is being developed in partnership with NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California.