NASA and Orbital ATK have completed the second qualification ground test of a booster for the Space Launch System, which the agency developed with Boeing to send the Lockheed Martin-built Orion crew module on deep-space missions.
The test occurred Tuesday at an Orbital ATK facility in Utah and was the final booster evaluation before the scheduled unmanned flight of the Orion spacecraft with SLS in late 2018, NASA said Tuesday.
The two-minute test offered NASA with data on 82 qualification objectives that the agency says will support flight certification of the booster.
“Seeing this test today, and experiencing the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, helps us appreciate the progress we're making to advance human exploration and open new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s human exploration and operations mission directorate.
According to Orbital ATK, the SLS motor was pre-chilled 40 degrees Fahrenheit over the past month in order for technicians to evaluate the system’s performance in lower temperature against the temperature range the rocket is expected to operate.
The company said it is also developing propulsion technology for the astronaut safety system that will be used aboard Orion.
SLS will use two five-segment solid-rocket boosters from Orbital ATK during the 2018 Exploration Mission-1.