NASA unveils 'the most powerful rocket ever built'

  • NASA unveils 'the most powerful rocket ever built'

NASA unveils 'the most powerful rocket ever built'

What should you do with your test rockets?

The SLS rockets are the main launch vehicle now commissioned for NASA's Artemis missions, which the space agency intends to use to return to the moon.

Engineers, NASA said, pushed the tank of the Space Launch System (SLS) "beyond its design limits to really understand its breaking point".

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a post on Twitter that "the tank withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads before buckling and rupturing".

The tank is part of the SLS Core Stage.

Previously, the tank completed tests in which it withstood the extreme forces that it's expected to be exposed to with engine thrust. The test ultimately resulted in the failure of the tank, but that's exactly what NASA says it was going for.

For all of these tank tests, both NASA and Boeing engineers simulated a liftoff with the flight stresses that come along with that. The test version of the SLS liquid hydrogen tank that is used for these tests is structurally identical to the actual flight tank.

For about five hours, the test tank was subjected to huge loads coming from pressurized nitrogen gas and hydraulic pistons that squeezed it with the force of millions of pounds.

With this last hurdle overcome (it was the largest-ever controlled test-to-failure of a NASA rocket stage pressurized tank), and the previous ones aced, the fuel tank (not the one that blew up, of course) is deemed ready for operation. First, build a stand specifically for that goal with enough design flexibility it can be reused, then install strain sensors on the tank, lots of them, add a safe fuel stand-in and apply pressure.