SLS solid booster tested Wed. 9/2

Sooner Boomer

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Mar 21, 2011
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On Wednesday afternoon in Northern Utah, Northrop Grumman fired up a full-scale test version of the boosters it is building for NASA's Space Launch System rocket. Two of these large boosters, each with a mass of 1.6 million pounds, account for 75 percent of the SLS rocket's thrust during the first two minutes of flight. They are composed of five segments of a powderized, solid fuel that is ignited upon launch. Northrop has already built 26 of the 30 segments NASA needs for the first three launches of the SLS rocket.

The primary reason for Wednesday's test was that Northrop's supplier of aluminum-based fuel could no longer deliver the product. Therefore, Northrop needed to ensure that a new vendor could provide the solid rocket fuel needed for future launches of the SLS rocket beyond the first three. NASA also used the test to assess some changes to the nozzle design, said Bruce Tiller, manager of the SLS boosters office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

With this test, Tiller said NASA remains on track to potentially launch the SLS rocket in late 2021. The boosters for this flight are already being stacked in Florida. The main question is whether the rocket's large core stage, which is set to undergo a critical test firing in Mississippi this fall, will be ready to go.

video at:

a longer version from NASA TV: