In a major milestone for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), all four RS-25 engines – veterans of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) – have been installed into the core stage of the rocket that will conduct the maiden flight of NASA’s new monster rocket on the Artemis-1 mission.
SLS will use the full inventory of flight-proven Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSMEs), or RS-25Ds, before exhausting the stock and moving to the RS-25E.
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The RS-25E – already contracted by NASA to Aerojet Rocketdyne – will be cheaper to build as the new engines will be specifically built as expendable units, as opposed to the built-in reusability of the RS-25D.
While many space fans are unhappy about the famous RS-25Ds being prepared for what will ultimately be a watery grave, SLS will benefit from the flight-proven experience of the engines for the opening missions.
All nine of the last SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines) to fly with the Space Shuttle performed admirably, with Discovery flying Main Engine 1 (ME-1) – serial number 2044, ME-2 – 2048 and ME-3 – 2058 during her final mission, STS-133.
For Endeavour’s swansong, ME-1 ...