According to a NASA press release, software testing processes for the modern avionics system that will guide the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built, have recently been conducted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The avionics software tests enable early integration and testing of avionics and software to help NASA perfect the system and ensure units communicate together as designed. Avionics and the accompanying software communicate with the rocket to tell it where it should fly and how it should pivot its engines to stay on its course.
Dan Dumbacher, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in the press release, "We continue to make good progress developing SLS. The avionics are like the central nervous system for the launch vehicle. They're of critical importance and testing them early helps us build a more robust rocket."
The SLS avionics and the flight computer will be housed within the rocket’s core stage, which when completed, will exceed 200 feet in height, storing cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the rocket’s RS-25 engines. The first test for the SLS is currently scheduled for 2017, where a configuration for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an unscrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit to test the performance of the integrated system in place.
Software testing has begun for NASA’s SLS in order to ensure units within the integrated system communicate effectively. When the SLS process is completed, NASA hopes it will house an unprecedented lift capacity of 130 metric tons to enable missions even farther into the solar system.