NASA is building the most powerful rocket this world has ever seen. It is called the Space Launch System (SLS). It is meant to allow the explorer to probe better within the Solar System.
The agency implied that the nozzle falling apart as shown in the video was intentional.
The test result, however, should not be thought of as a failure. The SLS was heated up to 6,000 degrees for two minutes continuously. This rocket can produce 9.2 million pounds of thrust at its highest capacity. This force is almost 30 times that of a normal 747 Jet’s capacity. A report suggests that this booster will account for about 75 percent of NASA’s total rocket power.
In the last booster test of the rocket, the front two nozzle plug broke apart, and the following video was released by NASA:
A statement by a NASA official said that the smoky ring arising from the booster was a result of the “Pressure difference between the motor gas and normal air.”
Acting as an additional layer of protection for the SLS, the nozzle is designed to be an “environmental barrier” that stops factors like dust, heat, and moisture from entering the rocket. Orbital ATK and NASA experts concurred saying that the nozzle isn’t always a part of the test. However, it may have been included in the test to account for or match some recent changes in the rocket.
One reason could be that the foam plug used in the SLS is sparse compared to the ones used in NASA’s previous rockets.
NASA claims that the intentional breakage is necessary for the test. The retrieved pieces are meant to help the engineers in gathering information such as the speed, distance and dimensions of the parts before they break. The test results showed that the broken parts fell 1,500 to 2,000 feet away from the rocket.
This test was the last full-scale qualification test for the most powerful rocket before it leaves for its unmanned launch into space, along with the Orion in 2018.