Spaceflight Insider

Recent RS-25 test places SLS one step closer to flight

The RS-25 flight engine E2063 undergoing a full-duration, 500-second test on Oct. 19, 2017.

NASA engineers conduct a full-duration, 500-second test of RS-25 flight engine E2063 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center on Oct. 19, 2017. Once certified, the engine is scheduled to help power NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket on its Exploration Mission-2. The test was part of Founders Day Open House activities at Stennis. Photo & Caption Credit: NASA / SSC

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne carried out another test of an RS-25 rocket engine (formerly the Space Shuttle Main Engine) for approximately eight minutes and 20 seconds on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, at the space agency’s Stennis Space Center located in Mississippi. The RS-25 engine E2063 test-fired during last week’s review is planned for use on the second flight of NASA’s new super-heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which will be Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2). Four RS-25 engines will be utilized on the SLS’ core stage. 

EM-2, as the mission is more commonly referred to, is anticipated to be the first crewed flight to launch using the SLS with the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) and the Orion spacecraft atop it. This would be the first American vehicle to carry astronauts into space since the Space Transportation System fleet, or Space Shuttles were retired in 2011. Orion is produced by Lockheed Martin.

“This is an exciting time in human spaceflight as we move beyond low-Earth orbit and into deep space,” said Eileen Drake the CEO and President of Aerojet Rocketdyne via a release. “SLS and Orion play critical roles in establishing NASA’s proposed deep space gateway and returning humans to the vicinity of the Moon.”

Each of the four RS-25 engines on the SLS will fire for eight-and-a-half solid minutes and in combination with two five-segment solid rocket motors, provided by Orbital ATK, will provide more than two million pounds-force (8,900 kN) of thrust.

The engine that was tested this week, E2063, is the newest of the sixteen RS-25 engines in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s inventory at its Stennis Space Center facility.

“Earlier this month we completed work on all four engines required for Exploration Mission-1 and we are now well on our way to getting the four engines needed for EM-2 ready to go,” added Dan Adamski the Director of the RS-25 Program. “You can really start to feel the excitement as flight hardware is coming together across the country for both SLS and Orion.”

In addition to the RS-25 engines, Aerojet Rocketdyne has also been contracted by NASA to produce four RL10 engines for the EUS, propulsion components for the Orion spacecraft, as well as constructing and testing a high-powered electric propulsion system for possible utilization in a planned 50-kilowatt power and propulsion device.

The company provides a range of propulsion solutions, from its long history with chemical propulsion to the newer electric propulsion which Drake feels will help NASA to “…expand the frontier of human exploration.”

Video courtesy of NASA



A native of the Greater Los Angeles area, Ocean McIntyre's writing is focused primarily on science (STEM and STEAM) education and public outreach. McIntyre is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador as well as holding memberships with The Planetary Society, Los Angeles Astronomical Society, and is a founding member of McIntyre is currently studying astrophysics and planetary science with additional interests in astrobiology, cosmology and directed energy propulsion technology. With SpaceFlight Insider seeking to expand the amount of science articles it produces, McIntyre was a welcomed addition to our growing team.

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