NASA is preparing for a historic return to the moon in 2024. Engineers plan to conduct a key test of the Space Launch System (SLS) core-stage rocket, which will help send astronauts to the moon. Engineers will load low-temperature propellants into the core stage and expose fuel tanks and internal pipes to sub-zero propellant extreme conditions.
Refueling tests are crucial and a necessary prelude to rocket tests, possibly as soon as November. In the image above, the core stage of the rocket is covered with orange insulated foam. It is currently being placed on the B-2 test stand at NASA’s Stannis Space Center.
The rocket has been there since January after being shipped from NASA’s Michud assembly facility in New Orleans. During the New Crown pandemic, the rocket’s work was suspended several times. Workers also face severe weather from several hurricanes.
Workers were forced to stop working again because of the impact of Hurricane Delta. Rocket operations are expected to resume quickly, and Stannis’s storm is expected to have little impact. Fuel testing will load 733,000 gallons of extremely cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen at the core level. The procedure is expected to take place later this month, during which the sensor will measure the reaction of the stage and internal pipes to cryogenic propellants.
If all goes well, the rocket will be refilled in November, and the RS-25 main engine will run for more than eight minutes, which is the actual time of launch. The SLS core is the same diameter as the space shuttle fuel tank and weighs 188,000 pounds. When fully refueled, it will weigh about 2.3 million pounds.