Press Release

NASA Performing First Major SLS Structural Tests, Media Invited

By SpaceRef Editor
April 18, 2017
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Media are invited to see one of the rigorous tests for the Space Launch System rocket by going inside the control room facility during operations at 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday, April 19, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world, built for human missions to deep space with the Orion spacecraft. The test series is underway on qualification articles that make up the upper portion of the SLS rocket.

For testing, the hardware is equipped with simulators and stacked as it will be for launch. Rather than liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen used for launch, liquid nitrogen is used for the test to pressurize the stage’s fuel tanks. Liquid nitrogen is the safest cryogenic for testing, with no smoke and fire. Large hydraulic systems inside the test stand push, pull and twist the integrated stack of hardware to simulate the extreme loads, or pressures, it will encounter during flight.

 The pieces are designed almost exact to flight hardware specifications:

Core stage simulator — a duplicate of the top of the SLS core stage, designed and built at Marshall.

Launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) — connects the SLS core stage and the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS). The LVSA was designed and built by prime contractor Teledyne Brown Engineering of Huntsville. The ICPS, designed and built by The Boeing Co. in Huntsville and United Launch Alliance of Decatur, is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system that will push Orion beyond the moon before it returns to Earth.

Frangible joint assembly — part of the separation system on the SLS. The flight version will have small explosive devices installed that will separate the ICPS from the rest of the rocket in space. Only the structural part of the frangible joint assembly is included for this test series. It was designed and built by Boeing and United Launch Alliance.

Orion stage adapter – connects the Orion to the ICPS and was designed and built at Marshall.

Orion spacecraft simulator – a replica of the bottom portion of the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, designed and built at Marshall.

NASA and contractor officials will be available for interviews. News media interested in attending should contact Tracy McMahan in Marshall’s Office of Communications at 256-544-0034 no later than 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 19. Media must report to the Redstone Arsenal Joint Visitor Control Center at Gate 9, Interstate 565 interchange at Research Park Boulevard by 12 p.m., April 19. Vehicles are subject to a security search at the gate. News media will need photo identification and proof of car insurance.

For more information on the SLS structural loads testing, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.