EM-1 Test and Verification

Orion Cut-Out

Click on a colored node to learn more about the testing that has been done to the part of the Deep Spae Exloration Systems.

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Arc Test

Heat Shield Arc Jet Testing

To simulate the searing temperatures of Orion's re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, scientists are using two large NASA 'arc jet' facilities at NASA Ames and NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston. The arc jets can be thought of as room-size blowtorches. They heat air to temperatures that exceed those at the surface of the sun by creating the equivalent of a lightning bolt that runs the length of a long, narrow tube. With a 10- to 60-megawatt electrical arc running through it, the arc jet tube gets so hot that it must be cooled by thousands of water lines.

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Arc Test

Orion CMUS Testing

A model of Orion, NASA's next vehicle for human space exploration, floats above an underwater mockup of the International Space Station in the 40-foot deep Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston. The model is used to practice recovery operations being developed for Orion. The yellow balls on the top of the capsule are part of Orion's crew module uprighting system, which would flip the vehicle into the proper orientation if it were to turn upside down after landing.

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Pressure Test

Proof Pressure Test of Orion

Kennedy Space Center

Engineers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently conducted a series of pressure tests of the Orion pressure vessel. Orion is the NASA spacecraft that will send astronauts to deep space destinations, including on the journey to Mars. The tests confirmed that the weld points of the underlying structure will contain and protect astronauts during the launch, in-space, re-entry and landing phases on the Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), when the spacecraft performs its first uncrewed test flight atop the Space Launch System rocket.

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Cryogenic Propulsion Stage

Orion Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS)

Kennedy Space Center

Some elements of a rocket can be familiar, like the boosters and engines. But there are several important parts on NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), that may be less widely known. Case in point? The interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS).

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SLS Core Stage Simulator Test

SLS Core Stage Simulator Test Article

Marshall Space Flight Center

Engineers recently completed fabrication of the core stage simulator structural test article for NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars.

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SLS Engine Test Section

Engine Test Section

Marshall Space Flight Center

This artist concept shows the 50-foot engine section test structure under construction at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The engine section for the Space Launch System will be put inside the structure and subjected to millions of pounds of force -- similar to vehicle loads experienced during launch. The structural test article is a replica of the top of the core stage and is approximately 10 feet tall and 27 feet in diameter. The rocket's core stage, towering more than 200 feet tall, will house the vehicle’s avionics and flight computer. It also will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. When combined with two five-segment solid rocket boosters, the rocket will produce 8.4 million pounds of thrust at liftoff to carry 154,000 pounds.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC

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SLS Engine Test Section

Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA)

Marshall Space Flight Center

A crane lifts the qualification test article of the launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) after final manufacturing on a 30-foot welding tool at the Marshall Center. The test version of the LVSA and other structural test articles for the upper part of the rocket will be tested later this year at Marshall to verify the integrity of the hardware and ensure it can withstand the forces it will experience during flight.
Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

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SLS Engine Test Section

Flight Software

Marshall Space Flight Center

Avionics and the flight computer will be housed in the SLS core stage. When completed, the core stage will be more than 200 feet tall and store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle's RS-25 engines. The Boeing Company is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, including avionics. The Integrated Avionics Test Facilities team provides and installs the structure and simulation capability to model the environments the vehicle will experience during launch. With the avionics hardware units arranged in flight configuration on the structure and with the flight software, the facility will replicate what will actually fly the rocket.

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SLS Engine Test Section

SLS Fuel Tank Welding

Marshall Space Flight Center

While this may look like a futuristic tunnel to another world, it is really looking up inside a nearly complete fuel tank for NASA’s powerful, new rocket—the Space Launch System—that will take humans to destinations never explored by people before. At over 300-feet tall and 5.75 million pounds at liftoff, SLS needs plenty of fuel to leave Earth. Once a final dome is added to the liquid hydrogen rocket fuel tank, shown here, it will come in at 27.5-feet in diameter and over 130-feet long, making it the largest major part of the SLS core stage. The core stage forms the rocket’s backbone and has five major parts, all of which are being manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Core stage tanks carry all the cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen combusted in four RS-25 engines to produce two million pounds of thrust. The tank holds 537,000 gallons of chilled liquid hydrogen that is completely combusted in the engines in the short 8.5 minutes it takes to send the SLS and Orion crew vehicle into orbit. The blue section, shown here, is part of the world’s largest robotic weld tool in the Vehicle Assembly Center at Michoud. Inside the tool, five barrels and one dome were welded to make the tank, shown here in silver; engineers will cap it with one more dome to complete tank welding. While the tank is smooth on the outside, the inside appears to have ridges because the cylindrical barrels that form the tank are manufactured with square patterns created by stiffening ribs machined into them to make the walls light but uniformly strong in every direction. When it is finished, a barge will carry this tank to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. While this qualification tank won’t actually fly, it will be tested at Marshall in a stand that simulates launch and ascent forces. Traveling to deep space requires a large vehicle that can carry huge payloads, and SLS will have the power and payload capacity needed to carry crew and cargo needed for exploration missions to deep space, including Mars. For the first flight of the SLS rocket, the Block I configuration can lift 70-metric-tons (77 tons). The next planned upgrade of SLS, known as Block 1B, will use a more powerful exploration upper stage for more ambitious missions with a 105-metric-ton (115-ton) lift capacity. For both configurations, SLS will use the same core stage and four RS-25 engines. The Boeing Co., headquartered in Chicago, is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, including avionics, and Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, is the prime contractor for the RS-25 engines.
Image Credit: NASA/Michoud/Steven Seipel

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Wind Tunnel Testing

Booster Test

ATK Propulsion Systems Test Facilities
Promontory, UT

The second and final qualification motor (QM-2) test for the Space Launch System’s booster is seen, Tuesday, June 28, 2016, at Orbital ATK Propulsion Systems test facilities in Promontory, Utah. During the Space Launch System flight the boosters will provide more than 75 percent of the thrust needed to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth, the first step on NASA’s Journey to Mars. The booster was tested at a cold motor conditioning target of 40 degrees Fahrenheit –the colder end of its accepted propellant temperature range. When ignited, temperatures inside the booster reached nearly 6,000 degrees. The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight. Engineers now will evaluate these data, captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the booster.

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Launch Pad 39B

Booster Fabrication Facility

Kennedy Space Center
Cape Canaveral, FL

With a legacy that stretches back to the earliest days of the Shuttle Program, NASA's Booster Fabrication facility is continuing its efforts to enable crewed exploration of the solar system with its work on Exploration Mission 1.

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STA Acoustics Test

ESM STA Acoustics

GRC, Plum Brook