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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid