One of the main elements of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage that makes it more than just a big fuel tank is the Main Propulsion System (MPS). All the equipment for the care and feeding of uprated Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME), adapted for SLS by Aerojet Rocketdyne as the RS-25, is repackaged from the backend of Space Shuttle Orbiters into a more traditional inline rocket stage.
SLS upsized the Shuttle elements — the big fuel tanks are now longer, and there are more engines in the bottom of the stage. Along with the engines, the MPS is packed into the complicated engine section of the Core Stage.
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Pulling everything together into the first unit has been a struggle for civilian space agency and prime contractor Boeing; the current target is to complete the first article by the end of the year, well behind early schedule estimates.
The MPS supplies the propellant to run four RS-25 engines for over eight minutes during launch while also supplying the hydraulics to throttle and point the engines based on commands from the vehicle’s flight computers, managing valve positions to control supply ...