The test version of the liquid hydrogen (H2) fuel tank for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) has been loaded into Test Stand 4693 at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The largest single piece of structural test hardware is part of the rocket’s core stage, which is more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet and stores cryogenic liquid H2 and liquid oxygen (O2) that will feed the vehicles RS-25 engines.

The liquid H2 tank test article is structurally identical to the flight version of the tank that will comprise two-thirds of the core stage and hold 537,000 gallons of supercooled liquid H2 at -423 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dozens of hydraulic cylinders in the 215-foot-tall test stand will push and pull the tank, subjecting it to the same stresses and loads it will endure during lift off and flight.

The SLS is an advanced launch vehicle that provides the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. With its unprecedented power and capabilities, SLS is the only rocket that can send NASA’s Orian spacecraft, astronauts and large cargo to the Moon on a single mission.


Source: NASA/Tyler Martin