Space Launch System Liquid Hydrogen Tank Test

Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama tested NASA’s Space Launch System liquid hydrogen test article tank to failure. The tank withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads before buckling and rupturing. 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. Earlier tests at Marshall certified the tank for both the current version of the SLS — called Block 1, which will use an upper stage called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage — and the Block 1B version that will replace the ICPS with the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage.