HUNTSVILLE, Ala – The 215-foot Marshall Space Flight Center test is impressive and its job is to test some of the equipment, which is even more impressive than the stand itself.
This is the biggest test campaign since the space shuttle days: testing the liquid hydrogen tank, which is the largest fuel tank ever made for a rocket.
"The SLS will be the largest volume and capacity ever built for a missile," said Tim Flores, Marshall Space Flight Center Integration Manager.
This is the bulk of the structural test hardware for the SLS – the 149-foot liquid hydrogen tank for the core stage – loaded on the 215-meter test bench 4693 at NASA's Space Flight Center on January 14th.
"This test stand consists of 7 million pounds of steel above the ground and this contains a Liquid Hydrogen Test with a Liquid of £ 104,000," Flores says.
The tank will go through test simulations to make sure it will withstand pressure when it is time for the real test. NASA said that dozens of hydraulic cylinders on the test bench 4693 would "push and pull the tank" to put it under the strain that is expected to be seen during the launch.
Now is a look, but the assembly is just as remarkable. Up to 150 NASA employees worked on it during the partial closure of the government. But even without pay, they were happy to be there.
"You see many smiling faces, because when you get a piece of what's unfolding, it's really exciting," Flores said.
The missile will be used on NASA's mission 1, which is the first of the increasingly complex missions that will allow astronauts to explore the Moon and beyond.
Currently, the first test flight is planned for the summer of 2020.