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    • By NASA
      Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA will conduct an RS-25 hot fire Friday, Feb. 23, moving one step closer to production of new engines that will help power the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond.
      Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, are set to begin the second half of a 12-test RS-25 certification series on the Fred Haise Test Stand, following installation of a second production nozzle on the engine.
      Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin The six remaining hot fires are part of the second, and final, test series collecting data to certify an updated engine production process, using innovative manufacturing techniques, for lead engines contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company.
      As NASA aims to establish a long-term presence on the Moon for scientific discovery and exploration, and prepare for future missions to Mars, new engines will incorporate dozens of improvements to make production more efficient and affordable while maintaining high performance and reliability.
      Four RS-25 engines, along with a pair of solid rocket boosters,  launch NASA’s powerful SLS rocket, producing more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff for Artemis  missions.
      During the seventh test of the 12-test series, operators plan to fire the certification engine for 550 seconds and up to a 113% power level.
      “NASA’s commitment to safety and ‘testing like you fly’ is on display as we plan to fire the engine beyond 500 seconds, which is the same amount of time the engines must fire to help launch the SLS rocket to space with astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft,” said Chip Ellis, project manager for RS-25 testing at Stennis.
      The Feb. 23 test features a second certification engine nozzle to allow engineers to gather additional performance data on the upgraded unit. The new nozzle was installed on the engine earlier this month while it remained at the test stand. Using specially adapted procedures and tools, the teams were able to swap out the nozzles with the engine in place.
      Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin In early February 2024, teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, completed an RS-25 nozzle remove-and-replace procedure as part of an ongoing hot fire series on the Fred Haise Test Stand. The new nozzle will allow engineers to collect and compare performance data on a second production unit. The RS-25 nozzle, which directs engine thrust, is the most labor-intensive component on the engine and the hardest to manufacture, said Shawn Buckley, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-25 nozzle integrated product team lead.
      Aerojet Rocketdyne has focused on streamlining the nozzle production process. Between manufacture of the first and second production units, the company reduced hands-on labor by 17%.
      “The nozzle is a work of machinery and work of art at the same time,” Buckley said. “Our team sees this nozzle as more than a piece of hardware. We see the role we play in the big picture as we return humans to the Moon.”
      With completion of the certification test series, all systems will be “go” to produce the first new RS-25 engines since the space shuttle era. NASA has contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to produce 24 new RS-25 engines using the updated design for missions beginning with Artemis V. NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne modified 16 former space shuttle missions for use on Artemis missions I through IV.
      Through Artemis, NASA will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
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      Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 EditorNASA Stennis CommunicationsContactC. Lacy Thompsoncalvin.l.thompson@nasa.gov / (228) 688-3333LocationStennis Space Center Related Terms
      Stennis Space Center Marshall Space Flight Center Space Launch System (SLS) Explore More
      30 min read The Marshall Star for February 21, 2024
      Article 15 hours ago 3 min read Rocket Propellant Tanks for NASA’s Artemis III Mission Take Shape
      Article 6 days ago 3 min read Teams Add Iconic NASA ‘Worm’ Logo to Artemis II Rocket, Spacecraft
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    • By NASA
      All the major structures that will form the core stage for NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket for the agency’s Artemis III mission are structurally complete. Technicians finished welding the 51-foot liquid oxygen tank structure, left, inside the Vertical Assembly Building at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Jan. 8. The liquid hydrogen tank, right, completed internal cleaning Nov. 14. NASA/Michael DeMocker As NASA works to develop all the systems needed to return astronauts to the Moon under its Artemis campaign for the benefit of all, the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket will be responsible for launching astronauts on their journey. With the liquid oxygen tank now fully welded, all of the major structures that will form the core stage for the SLS rocket for the agency’s Artemis III mission are ready for additional outfitting. The hardware will be a part of the rocket used for the first of the Artemis missions planning to land astronauts on the Moon’s surface near the lunar South Pole. Technicians finished welding the 51-foot liquid oxygen tank structure inside the Vertical Assembly Building at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Jan. 8.
      The mega rocket’s other giant propellant tank – the liquid hydrogen tank – is already one fully welded structure. NASA and Boeing, the SLS core stage lead contractor, are currently priming the tank  in another cell within the Vertical Assembly Building area called the Building 131 cryogenic tank thermal protection system and primer application complex. It completed internal cleaning Nov. 14.
      Manufacturing hardware is a multi-step process that includes welding, washing, and, later, outfitting hardware.The internal cleaning process is similar to a shower to ensure contaminants do not find their way into the stage’s complex propulsion and engine systems prior to priming. Once internal cleaning is complete, primer is applied to the external portions of the tank’s barrel section and domes by an automated robotic tool. Following primer, technicians apply a foam-based thermal protection system to shield it from the extreme temperatures it will face during launch and flight while also regulating the super-chilled propellant within.
      “NASA and its partners are processing major hardware elements at Michoud for several SLS rockets in parallel to support the agency’s Artemis campaign,” said Chad Bryant, acting manager of the Stages Office for NASA’s SLS Program. “With the Artemis II core stage nearing completion, the major structural elements of the SLS core stage for Artemis III will advance through production on the factory floor.”
      The two massive propellant tanks for the rocket collectively hold more than 733,000 gallons of super-chilled propellant. The propellant powers the four RS-25 engines and must stay extremely cold to remain liquid.
      The core stage, along with the RS-25 engines, will produce two million pounds of thrust to help launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft, astronauts, and supplies beyond Earth’s orbit and to the lunar surface for Artemis III. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.
      Through Artemis, NASA will send astronauts—including the first woman, first person of color, and first international partner astronaut—to explore the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and to build the foundation for crewed mission to Mars. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, exploration ground systems, advanced spacesuits and rovers, Gateway, and human landing systems.
      For more on SLS, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/humans-in-space/space-launch-system/
      News Media Contact
      Corinne Beckinger
      Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
      256.544.0034
      corinne.m.beckinger@nasa.gov
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      In the left two photos, workers with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) paint the bright red NASA “worm” logo on the side of an Artemis II solid rocket booster segment inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. The EGS team used a laser projector to mask off the logo with tape, then painted the first coat of the iconic design. The booster segments will help propel the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on the Artemis II mission to send four astronauts around the Moon as part of the agency’s effort to establish a long-term science and exploration presence at the Moon, and eventually Mars. In the right photo, the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis II mission received its latest makeover. Teams adhered the agency’s iconic “worm” logo and ESA (European Space Agency) insignia on the spacecraft’s crew module adapter on Sunday, Jan. 28, inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.NASA/Glenn Benson and Rad Sinyak Art and science merge as teams add the NASA “worm” logo on the SLS (Space Launch System) solid rocket boosters and the Orion spacecraft’s crew module adapter at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the agency’s Artemis II mission.
      The iconic logo was introduced in 1975 by the firm of Danne & Blackburn as a modern emblem for the agency. It emerged from a nearly 30-year retirement in 2020 for limited use on select missions and products.
      NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and prime contractor Jacobs began painting the red logotype onto the segments that form the Moon rocket’s two solid rocket boosters Jan. 22. To do so, crews used a laser projector to first mark off the location of the logo with tape, then applied two coats of paint and finished by adding several coats of clear primer. Each letter of the worm logo measures approximately 6 feet and 10 inches in height and altogether, stretches 25 feet from end to end, or a little less than the length of one of the rocket’s booster motor segments.
      The location of the worm logo will be moderately different from where it was during Artemis I. While it will still be located on each of the rocket’s 17 story boosters, the modernist logo will be placed toward the front of the booster systems tunnel cover. The SLS boosters are the largest, most powerful solid propellant boosters ever flown and provide more than 75% of the thrust at launch.
      Workers with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) paint the bright red NASA “worm” logo on the side of an Artemis II solid rocket booster segment inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. The EGS team used a laser projector to mask off the logo with tape, then painted the first coat of the iconic design. The booster segments will help propel the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on the Artemis II mission to send four astronauts around the Moon as part of the agency’s effort to establish a long-term science and exploration presence at the Moon, and eventually Mars.NASA/Glenn Benson Around the corner inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy, personnel adhered the worm logo and ESA (European Space Agency) insignia Jan. 28 on the spacecraft’s crew module adapter. The adapter houses electronic equipment for communications, power, and control, and includes an umbilical connector that bridges the electrical, data, and fluid systems between the main modules.
      In October 2023, technicians joined the crew and service modules together. The crew module will house the four astronauts as they journey around the Moon and back to Earth on an approximately 10-day journey. The spacecraft’s service module, provided by ESA, will supply the vehicle with electricity, propulsion, thermal control, air, and water in space.
      The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis II mission received its latest makeover. Teams adhered the agency’s iconic “worm” logo and ESA (European Space Agency) insignia on the spacecraft’s crew module adapter on Sunday, Jan. 28, inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.NASA/Rad Sinyak NASA is working to land the first woman, first person of color, and first international partner astronaut on the Moon through Artemis. SLS and the Orion spacecraft are central to NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway space station planned for orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      7 min read
      Gamma-ray Bursts: Harvesting Knowledge From the Universe’s Most Powerful Explosions
      The most powerful events in the known universe – gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) – are short-lived outbursts of the highest-energy light. They can erupt with a quintillion (a 10 followed by 18 zeros) times the luminosity of our Sun. Now thought to announce the births of new black holes, they were discovered by accident.
      Two neutron stars begin to merge in this artist’s concept, blasting jets of high-speed particles. Collision events like this one create short gamma-ray bursts. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/ A. Simonnet, Sonoma State University The backstory takes us to 1963, when the U.S. Air Force launched the Vela satellites to detect gamma rays from banned nuclear weapons tests. The United States had just signed a treaty with the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union to prohibit tests within Earth’s atmosphere, and the Vela satellites ensured all parties’ compliance. Instead, the satellites stumbled upon 16 gamma-ray events. By 1973, scientists could rule out that both Earth and the Sun were the sources of these brilliant eruptions. That’s when astronomers at Los Alamos National Laboratory published the first paper announcing these bursts originate beyond our solar system. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center quickly confirmed the results through an X-ray detector on the IMP 6 satellite. It would take another two decades and contributions from the Italian Space Agency’s BeppoSax and NASA’s Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory to show that these outbursts occur far beyond our Milky Way galaxy, are evenly distributed across the sky, and are extraordinarily powerful. The closest GRB on record occurred more than 100 million light-years away.
      Though discovered by chance, GRBs have proven invaluable for today’s researchers. These flashes of light are rich with insight on phenomena like the end of life of very massive stars or the formation of black holes in distant galaxies.
      Still, there are plenty of scientific gems left to discover. In 2017, GRBs were first linked to gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space-time – steering us toward a better understanding of the how these events work.
      The Long and Short of GRBs
      Astronomers separate GRBs into two main classes: short (where the initial burst of gamma rays lasts less than two seconds) and long events (lasting two seconds or longer).
      Shorter bursts also produce fewer gamma rays overall, which lead researchers to hypothesize that the two classes originated from different progenitor systems.
      Astronomers now associate short bursts with the collision of either two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole, resulting in a black hole and a short-lived explosion. Short GRBs are sometimes followed by kilonovae, light produced by the radioactive decay of chemical elements. That decay generates even heavier elements, like gold, silver, and platinum.
      Long bursts are linked to the explosive deaths of massive stars. When a high-mass star runs out of nuclear fuel, its core collapses and then rebounds, driving a shock wave outward through the star. Astronomers see this explosion as a supernova. The core may form a either a neutron star or a black hole.
      In both classes, the newly born black hole beams jets in opposite directions. The jets, made of particles accelerated to near the speed of light, pierce through and eventually interact with the surrounding material, emitting gamma rays when they do.
      As a high-mass star explodes in this artist’s concept, it produces a jet of high-energy particles. We see GRBs when such gets point almost directly at Earth. Credit: NASA/Swift/Cruz deWilde This broad outline isn’t the last word, though. The more GRBs astronomers study, the more likely they’ll encounter events that challenge current classifications.  
      In August 2020, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope tracked down a second-long burst named GRB 200826A, over 6 billion light-years away. It should have fallen within the short-burst class, triggered by mergers of compact objects. However, other characteristics of this event – like the supernova it created – suggested it originated from the collapse of a massive star. Astronomers think this burst may have fizzled out before it could reach the duration typical of long bursts.
      Fermi and NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory captured its opposite number, GRB 211211A in December 2021. Located a billion light-years away, the burst lasted for about a minute. While this makes it a long GRB, it was followed by a kilonova, which suggests it was triggered by a merger. Some researchers attribute this burst’s oddities to a neutron star merging with a black hole partner.
      As astronomers discover more bursts lasting several hours, there may still be a new class in the making: ultra-long GRBs. The energy created by the death of a high-mass star likely can’t sustain a burst for this long, so scientists must look to different origins.
      Some think ultra-long bursts occur from newborn magnetars – neutron stars with rapid rotation rates and magnetic fields a thousand times stronger than average. Others say this new class calls for the power of the universe’s largest stellar residents, blue supergiants. Researchers continue to explore ultra-long GRBs.
      Afterglows Shedding New Light
      While gamma rays are the most energetic form of light, they certainly aren’t the easiest to spot. Our eyes see only a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Studying any light outside that range, like gamma rays, hinges tightly on the instruments our scientists and engineers develop. This need for technology, alongside GRBs’ already fleeting nature, made bursts more difficult to study in early years.
      The Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 revealed the infrared afterglow (circled) of GRB 221009A and its host galaxy, seen nearly edge-on as a sliver of light extending to upper left from the burst. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, A. Levan (Radboud University); Image Processing: Gladys Kober GRB afterglows occur when material in the jets interact with surrounding gas.
      Afterglows emit radio, infrared, optical, UV, X-ray, as well as gamma-ray light, which provides more data about the original burst. Afterglows also linger for hours to days (or even years) longer than their initial explosion, creating more opportunities for discovery.
      Studying afterglows became key to deducing the driving forces behind different bursts. In long bursts, as the afterglow dims, scientists eventually see the source brighten again as the underlying supernova becomes detectable.
      Although light is the universe’s fastest traveler, it can’t reach us instantaneously. By the time we detect a burst, millions to billions of years may have passed, allowing us to probe some of the early universe through distant afterglows.
      Bursting With Discovery
      Despite the expansive research conducted so far, our understanding of GRBs is far from complete. Each new discovery adds new facets to scientists’ gamma-ray burst models.
      Fermi and Swift discovered one of these revolutionary events in 2022 with GRB 221009A, a burst so bright it temporarily blinded most space-based gamma-ray instruments. A GRB of this magnitude is predicted to occur once every 10,000 years, making it likely the highest-luminosity event witnessed by human civilization. Astronomers accordingly dubbed it the brightest of all time – or the BOAT.
      This is one of the nearest long burst ever seen at the time of its discovery, offering scientists a closer look at the inner workings of not only GRBs, but also the structure of the Milky Way. By peering into the BOAT, they’ve discovered radio waves missing in other models and traced X-ray reflections to map out our galaxy’s hidden dust clouds.
      NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory detected X-rays from the initial flash of GRB 221009A for weeks as dust in our galaxy scattered the light back to us, shown here in arbitrary colors. Credit: NASA/Swift/A. Beardmore (University of Leicester) GRBs also connect us to one of the universe’s most sought-after messengers. Gravitational waves are invisible distortions of space-time, born from cataclysmic events like neutron-star collisions. Think of space-time as the universe’s all-encompassing blanket, with gravitational waves as ripples wafting through the material.
      In 2017, Fermi spotted the gamma-ray flash of a neutron-star merger just 1.7 seconds after gravitational waves were detected from the same source. After traveling 130 million light-years, the gravitational waves reached Earth narrowly before the gamma rays, proving gravitational waves travel at the speed of light.
      Scientists had never detected light and gravitational waves’ joint journey all the way to Earth. These messengers combined paint a more vivid picture of merging neutron stars.
      With continued research, our ever-evolving knowledge of GRBs could unravel the unseen fabric of our universe. But the actual burst is just the tip of the iceberg. An endless bounty of information looms just beneath the surface, ready for the harvest.
      By Jenna Ahart
      About the Author
      NASA Universe Web Team

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      Last Updated Feb 06, 2024 Related Terms
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    • By NASA
      2 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 27, marking the halfway point in a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all. NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA completed the sixth of 12 scheduled RS-25 engine certification tests in a critical series for future flights of the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket as engineers conducted a full-duration hot fire Jan. 27 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
      The current series builds on previous hot fire testing conducted at NASA Stennis to help certify production of new RS-25 engines by lead contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3 Harris Technologies company. The new engines will help power NASA’s SLS rocket on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond, beginning with Artemis V.
      Having reached the halfway point in a 12-test RS-25 certification series, teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center will install a second production nozzle (shown) on the engine to gather additional performance data during the remaining scheduled hot fires. Aerojet Rocketdyne NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 27, marking the halfway point in a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all. NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 27, marking the halfway point in a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all. NASA/Danny Nowlin Operators fired the RS-25 engine on the Fred Haise Test Stand for almost eight-and-a-half minutes (500 seconds) – the same amount of time needed to help launch SLS – and at power levels ranging between 80% to 113%. New RS-25 engines will power up to the 111% level to provide additional thrust for launch of SLS. Testing up to the 113% power level provides a margin of operational safety.
      Now at the halfway point in the series, teams will install a new certification nozzle on the engine. Installation of the new nozzle will allow engineers to gather additional performance data from a second production unit. Following installation next month, testing will resume at Stennis with six additional hot fires scheduled through March.
      For each Artemis mission, four RS-25 engines, along with a pair of solid rocket boosters, power the SLS, producing more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. Under NASA’s Artemis campaign, the agency will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
      For information about NASA’s Stennis Space Center, visit:
      Stennis Space Center – NASA
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      Last Updated Jan 29, 2024 EditorNASA Stennis CommunicationsContactC. Lacy Thompsoncalvin.l.thompson@nasa.gov / (228) 688-3333LocationStennis Space Center Related Terms
      Stennis Space Center Marshall Space Flight Center Space Launch System (SLS) Explore More
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