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NASA's New Rocket Would be the Most Powerful Ever. But it's the Software that has Some Officials Worried.


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The Space Launch System during liftoff.

As NASA moves toward the Space Launch System rockets first flight, putting the Orion spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, its not the rockets engines that concern officials, but the software that will control everything the rocket does.

Credit: Associated Press

NASA's newest moon rocket is powered not only by four RS-25 engines that, combined, unleash 2 million pounds of thrust, but by two solid fuel side boosters that burn six tons of propellant a second at such enormous temperatures that during a recent test fire in the Utah desert, the flames turned sand to glass.

When it launches, NASA's Space Launch System rocket, a towering 322-foot behemoth — taller than the Statue of Liberty — would be the most powerful rocket ever flown, eclipsing both the Saturn V that flew astronauts to the moon and SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which has launched commercial and national security satellites as well as founder Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster on a trip to Mars.

But as NASA moves toward the SLS's first flight, putting the Orion spacecraft in orbit around the moon, it's not the rocket's engines that concern officials but the software that will control everything the rocket does, from setting its trajectory to opening individual valves to open and close.

 

From The Washington Post
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