Eleven years in the making, the last to stand the most powerful NASA-built rocket since the Apollo program. Equipped with the industrial test platform to which it is mounted, the main part of the space launch system is a bright, apricot-colored column relieved by twisted pipes and steel latticework. The rocket Statue of Liberty is taller than all else, on foot, and is the cornerstone of NASA’s astronaut ambitions. The launch vehicle is central to the agency Artemis programmed humans to return to lunar surface, And later, landed them on Mars.
On Thursday, NASA will for the second time try to prove that the space launch system is ready to fly, aiming for eight minutes as long as the continuous “hot fire” of its engines. If the test goes well, the rocket’s next stop will be the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and in early November, the Launchpad. It is expected to lift a capsule called Orion on a path around the moon and back. Its first crew is planning for mission 2023. The flight will be the first flight since 1972 to carry astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. In fact, it will send astronauts into space before a human has gone.
And yet far from making a bold statement about the future of manned spacecraft, the space launch system rocket represents something else: the past, and the end. This is the last class of rocket likely to be built by NASA.
However, seeing it launched would actually mean something. Although NASA has long wanted astronauts to return to deep space, this could not happen. The agency lacked a vehicle that was safe, tested, and validated for lifting humans more than a hundred miles from the ground. If this week’s test succeeds and the rocket flies later, the United States will be able to say that it does.
But the course has not run smoothly. The space launch system was born not on the drafting table of engineers, but on the senators’ desk. In 2010, Congress brought into existence a launch vehicle to fire heavy things into deep space. What things? Tbd And where, exactly? Nobody could say for sure.
Members of Congress did not have a particular design in mind, but they demanded that NASA make this thing whenever possible through the parts of the old Space Shuttle, and that it needed to be launched by 2016.
For the construction of large rockets, NASA simultaneously undertook a series of exploration programs that would use it. At first, it was an asteroid rocket. Then a Mars rocket. Now, it is an Artemis moon rocket. In any event, the space launch system is a billion-dollar budget and five years beyond its mandatory launch date.
a Hot ordeal in january NASA engineers hope to prove that it was worth the wait. Instead of simulating eight minutes of tension and actual launch events, the engines shut down after only 67.2 seconds. NASA has “blamed test parameters that were intentionally conservative for failure”. Engineers have since repaired a valve and replaced a faulty electrical harness that indicated “major component failure” during testing.
In contrast to what has happened in rocketry over the past decade, the failures that the Space Launch System has caused are in sharp contrast.
If you have logged on to the internet in the last five years, you have probably noticed Great launch of SpaceX built rocket. Elon Musk’s private aerospace organization has fired hundreds of satellites into space and even a Tesla sports car. Its rocket boosters return to Earth and land directly overhead for reuse. On Sunday, one scored a goal trip for the ninth time.
This private space program was funded by NASA and accelerated after the space shuttle stopped flying in 2011. Last year, SpaceX began taking the agency’s astronauts to the International Space Station. Now the company has set its sights on landing people on the moon and Mars. But SpaceX’s rockets are not designed to carry astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and some other companies have expressed interest in this truly long-distance travel market.
The space launch system is not NASA’s first post-Apollo attempt to build a deep space rocket for astronauts. On 20 July 1989, 20 years after the moon’s landing on Apollo 11 President George HW Bush Committed mankind to become a multilateral species. He later offered a timetable: By 2019, the 50th anniversary of that “one giant leap”, astronauts will salute stars and stripes from Mars.
Obviously, this did not happen.
In 2004, George W. Bush made the same commitment as his father. Much of the engineering that goes into the space launch system and the Orion capsule can be traced to the now canceled program, Constellation. In 2010, Barack Obama made his announcement, asking NASA to use the rocket to travel to Mars. The hardware has since been absorbed. Artemis, NASA Program Launched by Trump Administration Landing the next man and the first woman on the moon before going to the red planet.
Despite the lofty ambitions of so many presidents, humans have remained displaced in the orbit. The ability to reach the moon is not as simple as it goes a little far. The space station operates about 250 miles above the Earth’s surface. The moon is about 250,000 miles away. Accordingly, after 32 years of false starts and unsuccessful programs, a successful launch of the space launch system will reopen the old of human spaceflight. NASA will again have the hardware to take mankind to another world.
No American rocket can send astronauts to the moon at a launch. Falcon Heavy is a large rocket built by SpaceX. He has flown three times, is not certified to launch humans. SpaceX has instead focused on its crew’s deep space ambitions Starship, a sleek, ambitious spacecraft under development And probably years away from flying humans. Right now, if NASA wants astronauts to return to the moon, the space launch system is the only game in the city, even if it costs $ 2 billion per launch and cannot be reused.
SpaceX and Blue Origin, another private rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos Amazon, too, are solving very difficult problems: how to build versatile rockets and crew vehicles that descend so slowly that they are reusable even with astronauts.
In contrast, the NASA rocket does not look like any view of the future. This makes the space launch system a useful transitional product. There are no unusual engineering constraints. There is every reason to believe that once these rockets demonstrate their ability to fly, they will work well and reliably. As long as the starship or another rocket is flying safely and regularly, NASA can continue its intergovernmental efforts, knowing that in the interim, it has a working giant rocket.
There is great value in that. Large rockets will not be needed forever. It may only be needed for a long time to get the first woman to the lunar surface. The commercial launch area may be ready to take it from there.
It is highly unlikely that NASA will ever again rely on the rockets it has built. The space launch system is the end of the line. If this was the only objective, giving the country the time and confidence to acquire a private, reusable ship astronaut, then it would have been a success.
Whether or not the Space Launch System program ends in the next year or the next decade, unlike the end of Space Shuttle or Saturn 5, it will not be the end of a chapter, but the end of a book. NASA rocket will be out of business. When the next generation walks into the Kennedy Space Center and sees a huge old space launch system booster on display, the tour guides will say, “They don’t make it anymore,” and it will be – literally.
David W. Brown is a journalist who writes about spaceflight. He is the author of “Mission,” An examination of NASA’s long bid to build a spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa.