Watch NASA Test an SLS Tank to Destruction

By the time a rocket actually launches, it’s components have been through a ton of rigorous testing. That’s certainly true of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) which is the most powerful rocket ever built. That’s right, something is finally going to surpass the Saturn V, the rocket that took Apollo astronauts to the Moon.

Up until now, there’s been no need for something more powerful. But with more ambitious missions on the horizon—to Mars for example—a more powerful rocket is required. NASA has been working on the SLS, getting it ready for its first mission: getting Artemis to the Moon.

They recently tested the 40 meter tall (130 ft) liquid hydrogen tank to it’s breaking point. And in this test, failure meant success.

The December 5th test took place at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. During this test, the tank was tested with a combination of liquid nitrogen for pressure and hydraulics for loads. The liquid hydrogen tank was subjected to more than 260% of its expected flight loads before failing. Eventually, it ruptured and buckled, right when engineers calculated it would.

The tank already passed earlier tests and is now certified for use on the SLS Block 1, which will use an upper stage called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage. The US Congress requires Block 1 to lift 95 metric tons (209,000 lb) to low Earth orbit. It’s also certified for the Block 1B version that will replace the ICPS with the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. Block 1B will be used to send Artemis payloads to the Moon.

Evan Gough

Recent Posts

The “Happy Face Crater” on Mars Has Been Changing Right Before Our Eyes

Who has an even bigger grin than ten years ago? This goofy-looking crater on Mars.…

8 mins ago

Only 31 Magnetars Have Ever Been Discovered. This one is Extra Strange. It’s Also a Pulsar

Some of the most stunningly powerful objects in the sky aren’t necessarily the prettiest to…

16 mins ago

The One Place on the Space Station Astronauts Aren’t Supposed to Clean

While most of us are now more fastidious about keeping our homes and workplaces clean,…

3 hours ago

Strange Green Star is the Result of a Merger Between two White Dwarfs

Chandrasekhar found there is an upper limit for the mass of a white dwarf, but…

21 hours ago

Mars has Been Through Many Ice Ages in the Last Billion Years

Like Earth, Mars has experienced periods of extreme glaciation or ice sheet coverage, which are…

1 day ago

A Habitat at Ceres Could be the Gateway to the Outer Solar System

A new proposal from the inventor of the E-sail shows how we could create an…

2 days ago