Come 2024, NASA has plans to send astronauts to the moon as part of the organization’s Artemis project. To do so, NASA is building a rocket as part of its Space Launch System which they have recently shown off where they are calling it the most powerful rocket ever built. According to NASA, they claim that this rocket will be able to pack a multitude of things including Orion, astronauts, and also supplies all in one go.
Naturally with all the cargo on board, it would require a lot of power, which in turn could potentially cause it a lot of stress which could also lead to breakage and damage. To test it, NASA engineers put it through a stress test where it more or less lived up to what they had expected from it.
This includes 260% of expected flight loads carried out over a period of five hours before a buckling point was detected and the tank, containing liquid hydrogen, ruptured. It sounds dangerous, but it seems that this was within the expectations of the engineers which means that in theory, there shouldn’t be any surprises on launch day.
According to NASA, “The test version of the tank aced earlier tests, withstanding forces expected at engine thrust levels planned for Artemis lunar missions, showing no signs of cracks, buckling or breaking. The test on Dec. 5 — conducted using a combination of gaseous nitrogen for pressurization and hydraulics for loads — pushed the tank to the limits by exposing it to higher forces that caused it to break as engineers predicted.”