- NASA destroyed their expensive space launch system during the tests, but it was completely planned.
- The space agency has to push the hardware beyond its limits to know how much it can withstand, and it gathers a lot of data in each of these tests.
- NASA hopes that the SLS will bring astronauts to the moon by 2024.
NASA returns to the moon. It is planned to send astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024 – although this date always seemed a bit too optimistic for most experts – and if it does, it will use the SLS or Space Launch System rocket to accomplish this. The SLS has been in development for a long time and has undergone rigorous testing to ensure that it meets NASA requirements.
Now NASA has released a video that shows its own destruction of the SLS rocket. By deliberately pushing the missile past its set strength limits, it gives the missile a better idea of how durable it really is. The video of these tests has been shared, but this is the first time that we have a behind-the-scenes look at how everything went.
As you can see in the video, NASA has destroyed the SLS in several ways, including pressure tests, in which the rocket̵
NASA provides the following context for the footage we see:
NASA has completed the structural test campaign for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. A trial version of the rocket’s liquid oxygen tank was intentionally pushed to its limits on June 22.
Engineers in Marshall’s test lab worked with the SLS team to test four of the structures that make up most of the missile’s 212-foot core stage, as well as the structures that make up the entire upper part of the missile. The final test concludes an almost three-year structural test series in which the structural design of these various hardware elements has been qualified for the rocket that is to launch NASA’s Artemis missions and astronauts to the moon.
With the wealth of data that NASA collects during these tests, the space agency can be sure that the spacecraft will withstand the forces used during a normal mission. There is also a degree of certainty that the missile will be able to withstand extra loads if something goes wrong, but like any hardware that NASA has ever sent into space, it has a break.
NASA expects to send people to the moon with one of these rockets. The short timeline has been criticized by many, but the speed at which things come together suggests that it might be possible to open the start window for 2024. However, things could always change in the future.