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You Won't Believe Just How Loud NASA's SLS Can Get [VIDEO]

Sep 01, 2014 04:30 PM EDT
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You might want to crank down the volume for this one. That's at least exactly what engineers at an acoustic testing site at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama are doing.

As they wrap up measuring just how loud a test model of the new Space Launch System rocket can be, engineers are crunching numbers to figure out how they can make sure the rocket's lift-off isn't so loud it destroys itself.

A test that occurred just last Thursday was the 34th in a long series of exceptionally loud firings of an experimental SLS model. The agency even released a short video of this test that really pounds on the ear drums.

[Credit: NASA/MSFC]
And what's remarkable about this is that the test model being fired is a mere five percent of the actual rocket's size.

NASA boast that the SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built, capable of lifting the astronauts and cargo for missions to Mars and beyond in extended space flight. Nature World News recently reported how the 70-metric ton rocket was approved to move into the practical stages of development, and is expected to even out-lift SpaceX's highly anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket.

The rocket, due to be completed by 2018, is expected to be able to lift up-to 130 metric tons out of our atmosphere with ease. However, to achieve that, its boosters need to be the most powerful ever seen, threatening to destroy their own launch pad with sheer force and yes, even volume.

And that's why NASA is testing acoustic forces with a rocket that's a 20th of the size of the true SLS. The agency certainly didn't want to contend with a decimated launch pad and even a cracked rocket - the results of heavy acoustic shaking - after each hot-fire test.

Thankfully, the testing has already shown that engineers at NASA won't have to do much tweaking to a sound suppression systems already being put in pace.

"This has been a very successful test program," Jeremy Kenny, a SLS acoustics engineer at the Marshall Center, said in a recent statement. "Not only has our team gotten a better understanding of the noise levels expected at launch, but we've also proven out the effectiveness of the water suppression systems currently being installed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center."

The hot-fire acoustic tests began last January and are expected to end this approaching fall.

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