Work on carriers around the globe

The last days have been quite vigorous in the area of ​​news about work on various carriers. There were fresh photos of the components of the central unit of the super-heavy SLS rocket, SpaceX brought the final modification of the Falcon 9 - Block 5 to the test, in China began testing the engine of the "Long March 5" as part of correcting the cause of last year's accident, and the wording "over the launch vehicles" in the title was replaced for more general due to the continued taxiway testing of the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft.
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Photo: Stratolaunch

SLS assembly


The central unit (second stage according to the Russian classification) of the SLS launch vehicle consists of five large parts: the engine compartment, the hydrogen tank, the inter-tank compartment, the oxygen tank, and the transition compartment.
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SLS central block diagram, NASA drawing
The most advanced work on the transition compartment. Its strength is considered redundant, so they did not manufacture for it a doubler for strength testing.On the flight copy have already installed the mating connectors with the launch complex and applied heat protection.
Work on carriers around the globe tests, compartment, rocket, Philip, SlossNSF, engines, tests, instance, will, Block, compartment, layout, version, New, Flight, Stratolaunch, SpaceX, everything, Great, Falcon

SLS transition bay, photo by Philip Sloss / NSF
The installation of the cable network is underway, electronics are being tested separately. Three on-board computers, an inertial navigation system and one of the transmitters of the telemetry system with an antenna will be installed in the transition compartment.
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Electronics on the test, photo Philip Sloss / NSF
At the same time, flight specimens and technological mock-ups are made for the strength tests of the rest of the launch vehicle elements.
The inter-tank compartment performs several tasks at once. First of all, it must withstand the load and vibration in flight. The situation is further complicated by the fact that side accelerators will be attached to it. There is also electronics, telemetry devices, batteries, sensors and controllers. And, finally, through it pass the pipelines of the upper (oxygen) tank. Due to the production features, the flight case of the inter-tank compartment was assembled earlier than the layout. Therefore, the first has already been coated with primer and heat protection, and the latter is just being brought to the test.
Work on carriers around the globe tests, compartment, rocket, Philip, SlossNSF, engines, tests, instance, will, Block, compartment, layout, version, New, Flight, Stratolaunch, SpaceX, everything, Great, Falcon

Flight copy of inter-tank compartment, photo by Philip Sloss / NSF
Work on carriers around the globe tests, compartment, rocket, Philip, SlossNSF, engines, tests, instance, will, Block, compartment, layout, version, New, Flight, Stratolaunch, SpaceX, everything, Great, Falcon

Technological layout, photo Philip Sloss / NSF
The flight copy of the oxygen tank also overtook its layout - it was already managed to pass it through non-destructive tests and wash it. The next stage is the coating with anti-corrosion primer and heat-insulating foam.
Work on carriers around the globe tests, compartment, rocket, Philip, SlossNSF, engines, tests, instance, will, Block, compartment, layout, version, New, Flight, Stratolaunch, SpaceX, everything, Great, Falcon

Tanks of hydrogen (long) and oxygen (short) in the workshop, photo by NASA
Work on carriers around the globe tests, compartment, rocket, Philip, SlossNSF, engines, tests, instance, will, Block, compartment, layout, version, New, Flight, Stratolaunch, SpaceX, everything, Great, Falcon

Technological layout of the oxygen tank, NASA photo
The flight copy of the hydrogen tank managed to pass only pneumatic tests.
The engine compartment is not yet assembled from two parts. But his backup has already passed the strength tests. Here engines, their hydraulic drives, various controllers and other equipment will be installed.
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Tail portion of the engine compartment, photo by Philip Sloss / NSF
Mishud assembly shops (Michoud Assembly Facility, MAF) in New Orleans are literally around the clock. The assembled central unit for the first flight of the SLS must leave the workshops at the end of this or the beginning of the next year.

Block 5 at McGregor


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Falcon 9 Block 5, photo by Gary Blair / NSF, it is also in large size
The final version of the Falcon 9, Block 5 launch vehicle arrived for testing at the SpaceX test bench at MacGregor. On it are going to embody several changes at once.First of all, the inter-flight service is simplified. Musk said that this version will be ready for flight just a day after landing. New landing pillars can be folded up by the servicing team (before that they had to be removed entirely), the stage will receive thermal protection to facilitate braking in the atmosphere, and aluminum steering wheels will be replaced with titanium ones. New steering wheels have already been tested at the launch of the Iridium NEXT-2 in the summer of 2017.
Work on carriers around the globe tests, compartment, rocket, Philip, SlossNSF, engines, tests, instance, will, Block, compartment, layout, version, New, Flight, Stratolaunch, SpaceX, everything, Great, Falcon

New wheels, photo SpaceX
Further, NASA's strict safety requirements are being implemented - the design of pressurized tanks and turbine pumps of engines is changing - the study of engines that have flown and have been tested has found cracks in turbo pumps. At the request of NASA, before the flight with the crew, the “frozen” version of the rocket, without any new changes, will have to make seven successful flights.

Fixed engines for the "Great March-5"


The second launch of the Great March-5 launch vehicle was emergency in the past summer. The version expressed by the analysis of the broadcast seemed to be correct - in November, anonymous sources reported that the cause of the accident was the overlap of the fuel path of one of the engines with the lid of the rotor shaft housing of the turbopump.
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Assembling two engines YF-77, scheme CALT
As expected, localization and troubleshooting have already taken half a year, and the work has not yet been completed. According to official information, the corrected engine began fire tests from mid-February. The date of the next flight of the Great March-5 is still unknown, and this continues to shift to the right the interesting Chinese mission Chang'e-5 with the return of the lunar soil to Earth.
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Engine tests YF-77, photo CASC

New Stratolaunch Speed


The taxi test of the Stratolaunch carrier, which began in December, was continued on February 25 and 26. They reached a speed of 74 km / h. Obviously, we will soon expect the first flight of the largest aircraft to date. The first launch of a launch vehicle from it is expected in 2019, according to today's plans it will be the Pegasus rocket that has already flown many times.

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