rocket hardware

Under Pressure

Structural Tests Underway for Top of World’s Most Powerful Rocket

Testing is underway at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on the agency’s new Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket. SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft will enable deep-space missions, beginning a new era of exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.

Engineers at Marshall have stacked four qualification articles of the upper part of SLS into a 65-foot-tall test stand using more than 3,000 bolts to hold the hardware together. Tests are currently underway to ensure the rocket hardware can withstand the pressures of launch and flight. 

The integrated tests consists of:

1. Launch Vehicle Adapter

2. Frangible Joint Assembly

3. Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage

4. Orion Stage Adapter

Engineers are using 28 load pistons to push, pull and twist the rocket hardware, subjecting it to loads up to 40 percent greater than that expected during flight. More than 100 miles of cables are transmitting measurements across 1,900 data channels.

The Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, LVSA, connects the SLS core stage and the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, ICPS. The LVSA test hardware is 26.5 feet tall, with a bottom diameter of 27.5 feet and a top diameter of 16.8 feet. The frangible joint, located between the LVSA and ICPS, is used to separate the two pieces of hardware during flight, allowing the ICPS to provide the thrust to send Orion onto its mission.

The ICPS is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system that will give Orion the big, in-space push needed to fly beyond the moon before it returns to Earth on the first flight of SLS in 2018. For this test series, the fuel tanks are filled with nonflammable liquid nitrogen and pressurized with gaseous nitrogen to simulate flight conditions. The nitrogen is chilled to the same temperature as the oxygen and hydrogen under launch conditions.

The Orion Stage Adapter connects the Orion spacecraft to the ICPS. It is 4.8 feet tall, with a 16.8-foot bottom diameter and 18-foot top diameter.

The first integrated flight for SLS and Orion will allow NASA to use the lunar vicinity as a proving ground to test systems farther from Earth, and demonstrate Orion can get to a stable orbit in the area of space near the moon in order to support sending humans to deep space, including the Journey to Mars. 

For more information about the powerful SLS rocket, check out:

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Okay, here’s what we know about the second (third?) coming of Milestone Media:

  • Milestone Media’s lineup of books will be published and distributed by DC Comics and will be part of the recently reintroduced Multiverse as Earth-M. 
  • The books will be under direct editorial control of the Milestone partners and not DC Comics themselves, which is not unlike their previous arrangement. 
  • Milestone owns their properties outright.
  • At least two “Earth-M” hardcover graphic novels will be published annually, as well as a yet-to-be-determined number of miniseries and one shots set in the Dakotaverse. 
  • In addition to Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan, creators such as Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Bill Sienkiewicz, Christopher Priest, Ken Lashley, and many others will be a part of it. Some reports have Hudlin and Lee and Johns and Cowan on two different books and Hudlin and Lashley on one of the main titles. 
  • The books announced officially so far are Static Shock, Icon and Rocket, and Xombi
  • This is not a continuation of the old continuity but rather a reboot of the entire universe. A new beginning for a classic brand.
  • The original books will be revived in collected editions in both print and digital formats. 
  • DC Collectibles will be making Milestone action figures, designed by Denys Cowan.

And now we’re caught up. 

Getting to Mars: A New Rocket for the Journey

Do you know what the structural backbone is of our new rocket, the Space Launch System? If you answered the core stage, give yourself a double thumbs up! Or better yet, have astronaut Scott Kelly do it!

We’re on a journey to Mars. For bolder missions to deep space, we need a big, powerful rocket like SLS to take astronauts in the Orion spacecraft to places we’ve never gone before. The core stage is a major part of that story, as it will house the fuel and avionics systems that will power and guide the rocket to those new destinations beyond Earth’s orbit. Here’s how:

It’s Big, and It’s Fast.

The core stage will be the largest rocket stage ever built and is under construction right now at our Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. It will stand at 212 feet tall and weigh more than 2.3 million pounds with propellant. That propellant is cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. In just 8.5 minutes, the core stage will reach Mach 23, which is faster than 17,000 mph!

It’s Smart.

Similar to a car, the rocket needs all the equipment necessary for the “drive” to deep space. The core stage will house the vehicle’s avionics, including flight computers, instrumentation, batteries, power handling, sensors and other electronics. That’s a lot of brain power behind those orange-clad aluminum walls. *Fun fact: Orange is the color of the rocket’s insulation.

It’s a Five-Parter.

The core stage is made up of five parts. Starting from the bottom is the engine section, which will deliver the propellants to the four RS-25 engines. It also will house avionics to steer the engines, and be an attachment point for the two, five-segment solid rocket boosters. The engine section for the first SLS flight has completed welding and is in the final phases of manufacturing at Michoud.

Next up is the liquid hydrogen tank. It will hold 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen cooled to -423 degrees Fahrenheit. Right now, engineers are building the tank for the first SLS mission. It will look very similar to the qualification test article that just finished welding at Michoud. That’s an impressive piece of rocket hardware!

The next part of the core stage is the intertank, which will join the propellant tanks. It has to be super strong because it is the attachment point for the boosters and absorbs most of the force when they fire 3.6 million pounds of thrust each. It’s also a “think tank” of sorts, as it holds the SLS avionics and electronics. The intertank is even getting its own test structure at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

And then there’s the liquid oxygen tank. It will store 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen cooled to -297 degrees. If you haven’t done the math, that’s 733,000 gallons of propellant for both tanks, which is enough to fill 63 large tanker trucks. Toot, toot. Beep, beep! A confidence version of the tank has finished welding at Michoud, and it’s impressive. Just ask this guy.

The topper of the core stage is the forward skirt. Funny name, but serious hardware. It’s home to the flight computers, cameras and avionics. The avionics system is being tested right now in a half-ring structure at the Marshall Center.

You can click here for more SLS core stage facts. We’ll continue building, and see you at the launch pad for the first flight of SLS with Orion in 2018!

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Black superheroes from DC that need reboots or more publicity

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John Stewart


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Steel (superman family)

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David Zavimbe (Batman Family)

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Superman (yea it’s complicated but he is superman)

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Firestorm (more interracial then black if you ask me)


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Black lighting

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Aqualad (please dc make this one happen the most)

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Static shock 

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Simon Baz

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Bronze tiger 

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NASA Completes Key Review of World’s Most Powerful Rocket in Support of Journey to Mars

NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous review of the Space Launch System (SLS) – the heavy-lift, exploration class rocket under development to take humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars – and approved the program’s progression from formulation to development, something no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.

“We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “And we’re firmly committed to building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on that journey.”

For its first flight test, SLS will be configured for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. In its most powerful configuration, SLS will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons), which will enable missions even farther into our solar system, including such destinations as an asteroid and Mars.

This decision comes after a thorough review known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), which provides a development cost baseline for the 70-metric ton version of the SLS of $7.021 billion from February 2014 through the first launch and a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no later than November 2018.

Conservative cost and schedule commitments outlined in the KDP-C align the SLS program with program management best practices that account for potential technical risks and budgetary uncertainty beyond the program’s control.

“Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right,” said Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who oversaw the review process. “After rigorous review, we’re committing today to a funding level and readiness date that will keep us on track to sending humans to Mars in the 2030s – and we’re going to stand behind that commitment.”

“The Space Launch System Program has done exemplary work during the past three years to get us to this point,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We will keep the teams working toward a more ambitious readiness date, but will be ready no later than November 2018.”

The SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations programs each conduct a design review prior to each program’s respective KDP-C, and each program will establish cost and schedule commitments that account for its individual technical requirements.

"We are keeping each part of the program – the rocket, ground systems, and Orion – moving at its best possible speed toward the first integrated test launch,” said Bill Hill, director Exploration Systems Development at NASA. "We are on a solid path toward an integrated mission and making progress in all three programs every day.”

“Engineers have made significant technical progress on the rocket and have produced hardware for all elements of the SLS program,” said SLS program manager Todd May. “The team members deserve an enormous amount of credit for their dedication to building this national asset.”

The program delivered in April the first piece of flight hardware for Orion’s maiden flight, Exploration Flight Test-1 targeted for December. This stage adapter is of the same design that will be used on SLS’s first flight, Exploration Mission-1.

Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans has all major tools installed and is producing hardware, including the first pieces of flight hardware for SLS. Sixteen RS-25 engines, enough for four flights, currently are in inventory at Stennis Space Center, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where an engine is already installed and ready for testing this fall. NASA contractor ATK has conducted successful test firings of the five-segment solid rocket boosters and is preparing for the first qualification motor test.

SLS will be the world’s most capable rocket. In addition to opening new frontiers for explorers traveling aboard the Orion capsule, the SLS may also offer benefits for science missions that require its use and can’t be flown on commercial rockets.

The next phase of development for SLS is the Critical Design Review, a programmatic gate that reaffirms the agency’s confidence in the program planning and technical risk posture.

TOP IMAGE….Artist concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration launching to space. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC

LOWER IMAGE…This artist concept shows NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, rolling to a launchpad at Kennedy Space Center at night. SLS will be the most powerful rocket in history, and the flexible, evolvable design of this advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle will meet a variety of crew and cargo mission needs. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC

Anonymous said to superheroesincolor:

Speaking of Steel, I had an idea. So Superman is supposed to be the centerpoint of the whole DCCU, which makes sense in the context of Man of Steel. After seeing Superman save the world from Zod, hundreds of people would undoubtedly try out the superhero thing in response, and thousands more by the time that the Justice League forms.Isn’t that the perfect queue to introduce John Henry Irons, the weapons engineer inspired by Superman to become Steel (and also make up for Shaq)?

That’s a perfect opportunity, I just wish Warner Bros opened a space for a set smaller budget movies (Man of still was around 225 million). In these spaces projects for Steel, Vixen, Mr.Terrific and Black Lightning would shine.

Hell, a whole trilogy of Milestone Universe (Icon, Rocket, Hardware, Static)

I can only dream tho.