This past week, NASA resurrected the stalwart F-1 engine that powered the Saturn V rocket, test firing its gas generator at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The above-mentioned test was conducted in the context of helping to develop the nation’s future heavy lift rocket by revisiting the mighty F-1 which powered the Saturn V rocket of yore.
“[We are] pushing the gas generator to limits beyond prior Apollo-era tests,” explained Tom Williams, Director of the Propulsion Systems Department in Marshall Engineering Directorate.
“Modern instruments on the test stand measured performance and combustion properties to allow engineers a starting point for creating a new, more affordable, advanced propulsion system.”
Indeed, says Williams, these tests are only the beginning.
“As SLS research activities progress, NASA engineers will continue work with our industry partners to test and evaluate the benefits of using a powerful propulsion system fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene, a propellant we haven’t tested with in some time,” he added.
The gas generator tested this past week at Marshall is a key F-1 rocket component that burns liquid oxygen and kerosene and is the part of the engine responsible for supplying power to drive the giant turbopump. The gas generator is often one of the first pieces designed on a new engine because it is a key part for determining the engine’s size, which is a factor in the engine’s power and ability to lift heavy payloads and send them to space.
According to Chris Crumbly, manager of the SLS Advanced Development Office at the Marshall Center, NASA’s Space Launch System will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
“The initial 77-ton (70-metric-ton) SLS configuration will use two 5-segment solid rocket boosters similar to the boosters that helped power the space shuttle to orbit,” Crumbly confirmed.
“The evolved 143-ton (130-metric-ton) SLS vehicle will require an advanced booster with more thrust than any existing U.S. liquid- or solid-fueled boosters.”