News / Science & Technology

New US Launch Vehicle Being Developed

New US Launch Vehicle Being Developedi
X
June 19, 2014 8:04 PM
Since the retirement of its shuttle fleet in 2011, the U.S. space agency NASA has had to rely on Russian space vehicles to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. In the meantime, NASA’s engineers are developing components of a new system for launching manned capsules way beyond the low earth orbit - to an asteroid and even to Mars. VOA’s George Putic reports.
George Putic
Since the retirement of its shuttle fleet in 2011, the U.S. space agency NASA has had to rely on Russian space vehicles to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.  In the meantime, NASA’s engineers are developing components of a new system for launching manned capsules way beyond the low earth orbit - to an asteroid and even to Mars.

At NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, engineers are preparing for a crucial test of a booster engine that will help the main rocket escape the earth’s gravity. The agency says it's the largest booster ever developed for a manned spacecraft.

The Space Launch System, or SLS, consists of a main rocket and two solid-fuel boosters.  It will propel the new manned capsule Orion into deep space.  

During liftoff the engines create so much noise that the sound waves can actually damage the payload.

That is why other NASA engineers are testing a water-based sound suppression system on a scaled-down model of the launch vehicle.

“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," said Space Launch System engineer, Douglas Counter. "So this is very critical.”

At one of the indoor laboratories, engineers are assembling components of the system that will integrate and control all parts of the rocket.

“This is essentially the brain and nervous system of your rocket. The flight computers are your brain," said Space Launch System engineer Curt Jackson. "The various data systems, the various sensors, data from the different boxes -- kind of like your nervous system --  flow to the brain.”

Congress has not yet approved next year’s budget for NASA so the agency is trying to save money by relying on unused components, like the RS-25 rocket engines, built for the retired shuttles.

“We've got 16 RS-25 engines left over from the shuttle program," said engine test project manager Gary Benton.  "And, since the engine was highly reliable and reusable, we're able to take these engines and use them for the first four flights of SLS.”

The rocket test stand in Mississippi, was built in the Apollo era, but project manager Richard Rauch says it was designed to be flexible for testing various engines.

“What we're doing is re-purposing some of that old hardware -- some of that structural hardware -- a lot of the propellant and cryopiping, to make it adaptable to what's required for the SLS core stage,” he said.

At another site in Louisiana, workers have already started welding sections of almost a 100 meter long main rocket.  Engineers from NASA and the main contractor Boeing had to design huge welding tools.

NASA says the new Space Launch System is being designed to be flexible for both crewed and cargo missions.  Testing of the core stage will begin in 2016 and the first launch is planned for 2017, though no astronauts will be on board.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid