NASA has shared a close-up look at its next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket during a recent test ahead of its maiden flight.
Showing the engine nozzles gimbaling at the base of the booster, it may not be the most dramatic thing you’ve seen a rocket do. But the footage nevertheless offers insight into how some of the rocket’s parts will function during its upcoming flight.
— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) July 10, 2022
As you can see, the nozzles at the base of the rocket are able to move around, which helps the vehicle to stay on course and maintain stability during flight.
NASA explains: “Most modern rockets rotate, or gimbal, the nozzle to produce the control torque. In a gimbaled thrust system, the exhaust nozzle of the rocket can be swiveled from side to side. As the nozzle is moved, the direction of the thrust is changed relative to the center of gravity of the rocket.”
Here’s another clip demonstrating the engine nozzles’ maneuverability, shot during the same test:
🚀👀 Newly-released video shows @NASA_SLS rocket engine gimballing during the final wet dress rehearsal testing for Artemis I. As the engine nozzle is moved, the direction of the thrust is changed relative to the center of gravity of the rocket.
VIDEO: https://t.co/fUUfI4ihg9 pic.twitter.com/BFyutk0dPG
— NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (@NASAGroundSys) July 8, 2022
NASA’s SLS booster is using four RS-25 engines, a design that first flew with the Space Shuttle. Notably, the rocket’s first four launches will each use and expend four of the remaining 16 RS-25D engines that flew on Space Shuttle missions.
The SLS, one of the most powerful rockets ever built, is a key part of NASA’s Artemis program, which is aiming to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface as early as 2025.
In preparation for the rocket’s first flight, which is expected to take place in the next few months, NASA recently completed a so-called “wet dress rehearsal” of the vehicle following a failed effort in April. The rehearsal involved filling the rocket’s fuel tanks and performing a mock countdown to ensure that all of its systems are in proper working order.
A couple of relatively minor issues surfaced during the test, and engineers are now working to fix them. Other final preparations are also being made ahead of the highly anticipated maiden flight that will see the SLS rocket send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a flyby of the moon in the Artemis I mission.
The Artemis II mission will be pretty much the same, only with astronauts on board. Artemis III, meanwhile, will return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in five decades.
For a look at the SLS rocket’s awesome power, check out this video of a ground-based test that took place in 2021.
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