In New Orleans, engineers have started to weld sections of the massive heavy-lift rocket, which, when completed will be the world’s largest.
A scale model of the SLS, is being prepared for a test of the launch pad‘s sound suppression water system, which will protect the orbiter and its payloads from being damaged by acoustic energy reflected from the platform during lift-off.
Douglas Counter, a Space Launch System engineer explains the importance of rigorous testing.
“Past experience has shown that without this scale model testing, there could be not only problems with the design loads, with the environment, components could fail. So, this is very critical in proving out what the design loads, qualifications, the environment that the vehicle will actually see, the effectiveness of the water and whether your water suppression system – as designed – actually did what it was supposed to accomplish.”
Despite the thorough testing, Nasa is being thrifty in its re-use of materials. The new SLS will comprise components and even engines left over from the space shuttle programme.
Nasa has scheduled its first test flight of the full scale rocket for 2017.
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