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

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora