Guest blogger Martin Burkey, the SLS strategic communications team’s resident expert on all things engines, returns this week as we prepare for this afternoon’s RS-25 engine testing event at Stennis Space Center – if you’re not already, follow @NASA_SLS on Twitter and our Facebook link below for more info. — David
Rocket engines are among the most amazing machines ever invented. That’s mainly because they have to do one of the most extreme jobs ever conceived – spaceflight – starting with escaping Earth’s deep gravity well. Orbital velocity, just for starters, is over 17,000 mph, and that only gets you a couple hundred miles off the surface. Going farther requires going faster. Much faster.
The RS-25 makes a modern race car or jet engine look like a wind-up toy.
It has to handle temperatures as low as minus 400 degrees where the propellants enter the engine and as high as 6,000 degrees as the exhaust exits the combustion chamber where the propellants are burned.
It has to move a lot of propellants to generate a lot of energy. At the rate the four SLS core stage engines consume propellants, they could drain a family swimming pool in 1 minute.