˜Brain' of Space Launch System RS-25 Engine Passes Critical Test

by | Mar 28, 2017

Aerojet Rocketdyne technicians inspect the new controller on the RS-25 development engine. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc.)

An RS-25 rocket engine with a new flight-model engine controller and flight configuration software was successfully tested for the first time at NASA's Stennis Space Center on March 23, 2017. Four RS-25 engines, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, will help propel NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, America's next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle, and the controller unit is a key component for the rocket's safety and reliability.

The controller often is referred to as the brain of the engine, because it translates the vehicle's commands into action while monitoring the engine's health. It makes real-time adjustments by tracking critical operating conditions, such as the speed of the turbopumps, combustion pressures and temperatures, thrust, and propellant ratios. The new controller for the RS-25 engine is a significant upgrade from the controller used when the engine flew on the space shuttle, and it builds off the additional experience gained more recently with Aerojet Rocketdyne's J-2X engine test program. The new controller has 20 times the processing capability of the shuttle-era controller and offers increased reliability while providing a weight reduction of 50 pounds to each engine.

Just think about all the advances in computing technology and electronics that have occurred over the recent years, said Dan Adamski, RS-25 program director at Aerojet Rocketdyne. We've been able to increase the processing speed, add memory and greatly improve the reliability of the entire controller communication network.

 

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