A full-scale, test version of the booster for NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, will fire up for the second of two qualification ground tests June 28 at prime contractor Orbital ATK’s test facility in Promontory, Utah. The test will provide NASA with critical data to support booster qualification for flight. The first, full-scale booster qualification ground test was successfully completed in March 2015, which demonstrated acceptable performance of the booster design at high-temperature conditions. The second test will measure the booster’s performance at a cold motor conditioning target of 40 degrees Fahrenheit – which is the colder end of its accepted propellant temperature range. Testing at the thermal extremes experienced by the booster on the launch pad is important to understand the effect of the temperature range on the ballistic performance of the propellant. When completed, two five-segmentboosters and four RS-25 main engines will power the world’s most powerful rocket, with the Orion spacecraft atop, to achieve human exploration to deep-space destinations, including our journey to Mars.
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