Raumfahrt - SLS Raumschiff ORION Update-57


Four Down, Four to Go: Artemis I Rocket Moves Closer to Hot Fire Test


The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage for the Artemis I lunar mission has successfully completed its first four Green Run tests and is building on those tests for the next phase of checkout as engineers require more capability of the hardware before hot-firing the stage and its four powerful engines.

Green Run is a demanding series of eight tests and nearly 30 firsts: first loading of the propellant tanks, first flow through the propellant feed systems, first firing of all four engines, and first exposure of the stage to the vibrations and temperatures of launch.


The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is completing the Green Run test for the rocket’s core stage, shown installed on the top left side of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. For Green Run, the team is completing a series of eight tests culminating with Test 8, a full-up hot fire test that lasts eight minutes. Flames from the test will exit out of the yellow flame bucket shown here on the north side of the test stand. The B-2 test stand has dual positions and the right side of the stand is used for other testing. The SLS core stage is being tested for the first time testing prior to its use on the Artemis I lunar mission.
Credits: NASA/Stennis

“We are methodically bringing several complex systems to life and checking them out during the first seven tests,” explained SLS Stages Manager Julie Bassler. “Then it is show time for the eighth test when we put it all together and fire up the rocket’s core stage, just like we’ll fire it up for the Artemis I launch to the Moon.”

On Aug. 5, engineers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St Louis, Mississippi, where the stage is loaded into the B-2 Test Stand, completed the fourth of eight planned tests of the 212-foot-tall core stage. For Test 4, engineers performed the initial functional checkout of the main propulsion system components to verify command and control operability (valve response, timing, etc.) and performed leak checks on the core stage-to-facility umbilical fluid and gas connections.

“With test gases flowing through this many parts of a complex rocket stage, we expected the test team to encounter some issues,” said Jonathan Looser, who manages the SLS core stage main propulsion system. “Historically, there’s never been a NASA human-rated launch vehicle flown without one or more full-up tests before flight, and they have all encountered first-time issues. As expected, we found a few with valves and seals and addressed them, and now we’re ready to complete the next four Green Run tests.”

The Green Run testing series formally started in January with modal testing to verify computer models and support guidance and navigation control systems. In March, the test series was interrupted by a shutdown related to COVID-19 cases in Mississippi. When testing resumed in May with appropriate safety measures in place, the team completed Test 2, activation of computers, data collection health monitoring and other “avionics” that make up the brains and nervous system of the core stage. Test 3 was a check of the fail-safe systems that shut down the stage in a contingency situation. Each test builds on the prior test and is longer than the previous one, adding new hardware activations to those already completed.  

For Test 4, functional and leak checks of the stage main propulsion systems and engines lasted three weeks. Engineers were able to conduct the test with gaseous nitrogen and helium, which is more efficient than using liquid hydrogen and oxygen propellants, which are only needed for the actual hot-fire test.  As these gases flowed through systems, special instrumentation monitored for any leaks or poor connections.

Next up for the Green Run team is Test 5. It will ensure the stage thrust vector control system works correctly, which includes huge components that steer the four RS-25 engines, called actuators, and provides hydraulics to the engine valves.

Test 6 simulates the launch countdown to validate the countdown timeline and sequence of events. This includes the step-by-step fueling procedures in addition to the previous test steps of powering on the avionics and simulated propellant loading and pressurization.

As one final checkout before the full firing test, Test 7 is called the “wet dress rehearsal,” meaning it builds on the simulations in Test 6 and includes fueling the rocket. After once again powering on the avionics, hydraulic systems, fail-safe systems, and other related systems that have been checked out in the prior six tests, the team will load, control, and drain more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or super cold, propellants.  

Only after passing these seven tests will it be time for Test 8, a full countdown and hot fire test for up to eight minutes. During the test, all four RS-25 engines will be firing at a full, combined 1.6 million pounds of thrust just as they will on the launch pad. Test 8 will be the final checkout to verify the stage is ready for launch. Afterward, engineers will prepare the stage for its trip to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“We want to find any issues here on the ground at Stennis, where we’ve added hundreds of special ground test sensors to the stage for Green Run,” said Ryan McKibben, one of the Stennis Green Run test conductors.  “We have great access to the stage on the B-2 Test Stand and have engineers and technicians on hand who are familiar with this stage.”

By the time all eight Green Run tests are complete, Boeing, the prime contractor for the core stage, estimates it will collect 75-100 terabytes of data, not including voice and video data collected. And that’s a lot of homework considering that all the data in the Library of Congress amounts to just 15 terabytes.

NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS and Orion, along with the human landing system and the Gateway in orbit around Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.


Quelle: NASA


Update: 19.00 MESZ


SN6 begins test campaign as future Starships hatch plans for SpaceX’s next leap


Following the successful test of Starship SN5 during its 150-meter hop just a week ago, the next Starship (SN6) is preparing to repeat the test in the coming days. With a potential tag-team – or hop-team – role for SN5 and SN6, a roadmap is starting to form ahead of the more ambitious tests that will involve Starships SN8 and SN9 – both of which are already under various stages of construction at SpaceX Boca Chica.

With the incredible build and test cadence continuing at SpaceX’s facility in South Texas, a “hot-swap” in the Mid Bay was required after SN5 rolled back from the launch site, following what was the first successful hop of a Starship test vehicle.

With SN6 already assembled in the Mid Bay and waiting patiently for her turn at testing, the two prototypes swapped places, allowing SN5 to take SN6’s slot in the bay, while the latter rolled to the vacated test mount at the launch site.



Starship SN6 – a near-twin to SN5 – is currently pushing through a pre-hop test sequence that includes proof-testing ahead of a Static Fire test, laying the path toward its own 150-meter hop.

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk recently noted there will be numerous hops to refine the launch sequence,providing useful data ahead of the next major milestones that will see a future Starship launch as high as 20 kilometers.

This could result in SN5 and SN6 tag-teaming over the coming weeks, each replaying their 150-meter hops under the power of a single Raptor engine.

First, SN6 is required to pass numerous tests ahead of the hop, including proof/cryo testing, milestones that occurred on Sunday with the loading of LN2 (Liquid Nitrogen).

Providing all goes well with those tests, the hydraulic rams – placed in the launch mount to impart forces on the aft of the vehicle during pressurization tests – will be removed and a Raptor engine (likely SN29) will be installed on SN6. This will allow the Static Fire test to take place, which will provide a green light to proceed toward the 150-meter hop.

Following the test, SN6 will either be placed back on the launch mount for a second hop or rolled back to the Mid Bay to tap SN5 back into the game for her second hop.

Likely to take place during the hop series, a Test Tank, called SN7.1, will make a trip to the launch site for a test of its own. While both SN5 and SN6 are made from 301 Stainless Steel, SN7.1 is made from 304L (or at least a variant of this alloy). 304L is what all near-term future Starships will be made from before SpaceX employs its under-development proprietary alloy.

Data from SN7.1 will be fed into the data set that will guide pressure allowances on Starship SN8, which has already begun final assembly inside the Mid Bay next to its new neighbor, SN5.

With SN8 also made from 304L, the vehicle is set to provide the next leap forward – or upwards – for SpaceX’s Starship Launch System (SLS – not the orange one).

SN8 is expected to gain the nosecone, made from a five ring barrel section and the fairing dome, along with aerodynamic control surfaces, pointing towards a much greater leap compared to the tests with her younger sisters.  While such a completed nosecone has been observed inside the Windbreak, it has not been confirmed that this is the nosecone section that will be installed on SN8.

Numerous nosecones, to the point of it becoming amusing, can be seen waiting their turn for potentially becoming flight-worthy. Ultimately, the nosecones which include a header tank are believed to be the most likely to fly.

SN8’s aft section is also expected to gain fins, with aft fins already seen on site, along with additional hardware recently arriving via new deliveries over the past few days. Most notably, SN8 will fly with three Raptor engines.

While SN8 presses onwards to become the first full-stack Starship, SN9 has been seen in public for the first time, with a Common Dome section rolled out of one of the Big Tents at the Production Site.

Although it is early days for SN9, this sighting intimates that there are likely parts – namely bulkheads – for several other Starships under construction inside the Big Tents, given the lead time and Elon Musk’s note that this is one of the hardest parts of Starship to construct.

Moving past Starship, preparations for the huge Super Heavy booster are in full swing at both the Production Site and the Launch Site.

Continuing to rise above Level 3, the new High Bay is being built at pace. Construction of the High Bay only began a month ago and has since risen to become the tallest building at SpaceX Boca Chica.

This 81-meter tall facility will host the stacking of Super Heavy sections before the vehicle is then rolled to the launch site for mating with the Starship vehicle.

Notably, work on the Super Heavy launch site has picked up considerably over recent days.

Located next door to the Starship test site that currently hosts SN6 and permanent resident Starhopper, the Super Heavy pad was a placeholder area of SpaceX Boca Chica, with only its land area laid out by Earthmovers via ground preparations. However, it came back to life via numerous borehole drilling operations, as foundations for what is envisioned to be a huge launch tower were laid.

In recent days, the shape of foundations for a new structure has been observed, although it is not clear if this will become the launch tower structure, a water tower for Super Heavy’s Sound Suppression System – or something completely different.

Now classed as the “Orbital Launch Pad”, rebar cages have been placed around the immediate construction area, akin to how the Tripod Test Stand at SpaceX’s McGregor test site was constructed (albeit by original tenants, Beal Aerospace).

SpaceX’s official renderings of Super Heavy launching from Boca Chica place focus mostly on a HIF (Horizontal Integration Facility) and the huge service tower. However, such footage, however official, should always be deemed notional, not least when portraying an ever-refining launch system.



What can be confidently assumed is SpaceX is preparing the facility groundwork for the first assembly and testing of Super Heavy by 2021.

Test programs and new vehicles will always stretch schedules. However, there remains the distinct possibility SpaceX could launch their first Super Heavy rocket before the Space Launch System (SLS – the orange one) is due to conduct her maiden launch at the end of next year.

Quelle: NS


Update: 10.09.2020


Backbone of a spacecraft


This structure is the frame and base for the European Service Module, part of NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will return humans to the Moon.

Built in Turin, Italy, at Thales Alenia Space, this is the third such structure to roll out of production. However, this one is extra special, as it will fly the first woman and next man to land on the Moon and return on the Artemis III mission by 2024.

The structure is nearly complete and acts as a backbone to the Orion spacecraft, providing rigidity during launch.

Much like a car chassis, this structure forms the basis for all further assembly of the spacecraft, including 11 km of wiring, 33 engines, four tanks to hold over 8000 litres of fuel, enough water and air to keep four astronauts alive for 20 days in space and the seven-metre ‘x-wing’ solar arrays that provide enough electricity to power two households.

Orion’s backbone will travel to the Airbus integration hall in Bremen, Germany, at the end of the month to integrate all the elements listed above and more. This third European Service Module will join the second in the series that is already in Bremen, and nearing completion, to be sent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center next year.

The first service module is already finished and will be integrated with the Crew Module and rocket adapters to sit atop the Space Launch Systems rocket. The first completed Orion craft is scheduled for a launch and fly-by around the Moon, without astronauts, next year on the first Artemis mission.

The countdown to the Moon starts in Europe with 16 companies in ten countries supplying the components that make up humankind’s next generation spacecraft for exploration.

Quelle: ESA 
Update: 25.09.2020

NASA Invites Media to Hot Fire Test for Mega Rocket to Support Moon Missions


The massive core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for the core stage Green Run test series. NASA and Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, installed the stage into the test stand in January 2020. The core stage Green Run test series is an important step toward safely launching SLS and NASA's Orion spacecraft beyond Earth's orbit forward to the Moon for the agency’s Artemis program. The 212-foot-tall rocket stage -- the largest stage the agency has ever produced -- contains the cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks that will feed four RS-25 rocket engines, along with the vehicle's avionics and flight computers. The comprehensive test campaign will validate the core stage design and ensure it’s ready for the first and future Artemis missions to the Moon.
Credits: NASA

Media accreditation is now open for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket Green Run hot fire test – the test of the rocket’s core stage and all of its integrated systems before its flight on the Artemis I lunar mission, scheduled for 2021. NASA is targeting early November for the test in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.


The hot fire is the final in a series of eight tests that ensure the stage’s systems are functioning and ready for operation. The test replicates the launch by loading the propellants and allowing them to flow throughout the system as the four RS-25 engines fire simultaneously to demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system, and software can all perform together just as they will on launch day.


Following the test, NASA will ship the core stage to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will be assembled with the other parts of the Artemis I rocket and the Orion spacecraft.


Media accreditation deadlines for SLS Core Stage Green Run test are as follows:


  • International media without U.S. citizenship must apply by 4p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 2.
  • U.S. media must apply by 4p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 16.


All accreditation requests should be submitted online at:


NASA continues to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will credential a limited number of media for access to Stennis Space Center in order to protect the health and safety of media and employees. International media based in the U.S. may apply. Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions at Stennis, all attendees will need to follow quarantine requirements.


NASA will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the agency’s chief health and medical officer, and will immediately communicate any updates that may impact media access for the test.


For questions about media accreditation, email

For other questions, contact the Stennis Office of Communications at 228-688-3333.


Reporters with special accommodations requests should contact Valerie Buckingham at by Friday, Oct. 16.


The core stage was built at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans with contributions from suppliers across the country. Boeing is the lead contractor for the core stage, with the RS-25 engines built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the test is being conducted by engineers from Stennis, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and SLS contractors.

Quelle: NASA 


Update: 6.10.2020





ArianeGroup has just signed several agreements with Airbus Defence and Space for the adaptation and construction of the third European Service Module (ESM) flight model for the Orion spacecraft. ArianeGroup will therefore: 

  • provide integration and testing services for the propulsion sub-system, as well as for certain parts of the thermal sub-system and the corresponding electronic sub-systems
  • deliver several major components of the propulsion sub-system: notably 24 attitude control engines, two high-pressure regulators, various fuel valves, four fuel tanks, and two high-pressure helium tanks for pressurizing the fuel tanks in zero-gravity conditions
  • provide technical support during system integration and acceptance of the Orion spacecraft’s ESM in the United States

Airbus DS is prime contractor on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) for the ESM service module, Europe’s contribution to NASA’s Orion MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) spacecraft.

STEFAN HAESSLERHead of Orbital Propulsion at ArianeGroup

When the first astronauts of the Artemis mission walk on the surface of the Moon in 2024, it will be in part thanks to the expertise of ArianeGroup in Germany and in France. Our know-how and our propulsion systems have flown on numerous exploration missions. By collaborating in the construction of the third service module together with Airbus Defence and Space, we demonstrate our know-how in the field of crewed flight. We are delighted to place our unique skills at the disposal of this transatlantic Moon mission. All the ArianeGroup employees are extremely proud to be able to contribute to the success of this exceptional human adventure.”

The contracts were signed in August 2020. They follow on from the decision taken by the ESA Council at ministerial level in November 2019 to continue European participation in the NASA project.

ArianeGroup has been involved in the Orion program since its beginning and has already supplied propulsion sub-system components for the first two flight models.

The first service module has been delivered to NASA and the second is currently being assembled and tested at the ArianeGroup site in Bremen, Germany. Integration of the third service module will be starting shortly in Bremen.

The European Service Module that will propel the astronauts to the Moon has a propulsion sub-system comprising 33 engines. In addition to the main engines built in the U.S., it includes 24 attitude control motors with a thrust of 200N, built by ArianeGroup in Lampoldshausen, Germany. The fuel tanks are supplied by ArianeGroup in Bremen and the helium tanks by ArianeGroup in Issac, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France. This is supplemented by a considerable amount of final assembly work, to be carried out at the Bremen site. This work includes integration of the various components; installation of harnesses, thermal equipment, and fuel circuits; welding work; testing, including high-pressure tests; and support during integration in the U.S. At the same time, ArianeGroup has submitted a number of bids for production of ESM flight models 4, 5, and 6. The authorization to proceed has already been signed, so that critical lead-time activities can be started rapidly.

For NASA’s Artemis program, the third ESM will be powering the astronauts into lunar orbit on board the Orion crew module, which will land on the Moon and return to Earth in 2024, carrying the first woman to set foot on the Moon. Before this, two flights will take place, with the first scheduled for 2021. This is the first time that NASA has used a European-built critical component to provide propulsion and electrical power for one of its spacecraft.

Quelle: arianeGroup


Artemis I Rocket and Spacecraft Receive “Worm” Welcome


NASA is headed back to the Moon as part of the Artemis program – and the agency’s “worm” logo will be along for the ride on the first integrated mission of the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida have applied the historic logo in bright red on visible parts of the Artemis I rocket and spacecraft.


“After almost three decades, our famous logotype is back in action, and it is thrilling for all of us that worked on the original design to have it return in such an impressive way.” said Richard Danne, of the design team at Danne & Blackburn who originally created the logo. “It is particularly exciting to be involved with the Artemis program, so full of potential beginning with this promising first mission.”

The bold, sleek design of the “worm” logo was officially introduced in 1975 and was incorporated into many of the agency’s next-generation programs. It was retired in 1992, but made a comeback in 2020 as the agency ushers in a new, modern era of human spaceflight.


The worm began making an appearance on the SLS twin solid rocket boosters in late August when workers with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and their contractor Jacobs started painting the iconic design across two of the booster segments. The team used a laser projector to mask off the logo with tape, then painted the first coat of the logo inside the center’s Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility. The job was completed by adding a second coat of paint, followed by multiple clear coats on the booster.


“The most technically challenging task was identifying the correct sizing and location of where the logo was to go,” said William Richards, an engineer with Jacobs, the lead contractor supporting booster stacking operations. “New laser technology helped us lay it out in the correct position to mask off for the painting and correctly shape the letters, especially the curve of the ‘S’.”


After the boosters are transferred to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking, technicians will secure an access panel across the middle section of the boosters and paint it to complete the insignia. The worm will be visible as the boosters are stacked on top of the mobile launcher, while the rocket is on the launch pad, and as it soars through Earth’s atmosphere during launch.


In this time-lapse video, technicians paint the NASA logotype, or "worm," on a segment of a booster that will carry astronauts into space on the Artemis I mission.

The worm and ESA (European Space Agency) logo were recently applied to the Orion spacecraft as well. Technicians cut the emblems into flight-proof decals and adhered them to the underside of Orion’s crew module adapter (CMA). ESA is providing Orion’s service module, which is the powerhouse that fuels and propels the spacecraft. These bold images will be seen from cameras at the end of Orion’s solar arrays as the spacecraft travels toward the Moon and back.


Orion with NASA and ESA logos by the Moon
Illustration of the NASA logotype, or "worm" logo, and ESA logo are seen on the Orion spacecraft in space near the Moon on the Artemis I mission.
Credits: NASA

The decals were affixed to the spacecraft by Frank Pelkey, a technician who previously painted the U.S. flag on the spacecraft that flew on NASA’s Exploration Flight Test-1. “I felt a great sense of pride when painting the U.S. flag on Orion’s first flight,” said Pelkey. “It was that same feeling of gratitude to be selected to apply the NASA and ESA logos to the vehicle for the first Artemis mission.”

Later this year, teams will apply an American flag and the primary NASA logo with the blue sphere, known as the “meatball,” to the crew module, in addition to a decal of the worm on the outer band of the CMA. These logos will also be seen during the mission while Orion is in space, and the worm on the CMA band will be visible while on the launch pad as well.


Also to be applied early next year and visible from the launch pad, the meatball and an ESA logo will be shown on the fairings that cover the service module, and the American flag will appear on the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, as well as the launch abort system along with the words “United States.”

Illustration of SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft on the mobile launcher for Artemis I.

In June, Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor for the boosters, delivered the Artemis I rocket motors to Kennedy where assembly of the entire five-segment booster has started. The twin boosters will help propel the SLS rocket on its first flight in 2021. Shortly after launch from Pad 39B, the boosters will separate from the rocket as the core stage continues to send Orion to space. After the core stage’s job is complete, the rocket’s upper stage sends Orion toward the Moon, and then Orion continues the rest of its journey around the Moon and back powered by the European-provided service module. Artemis II in 2023 will be the first flight test with crew. In 2024, NASA will send the first woman and next man to surface of the Moon on the Artemis III mission, and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade.

Quelle: NASA

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