January 8, 2016 – Work has begun on a second structural test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The 85-foot-tall Test Stand 4697 is expected to be complete this summer and will be used to test the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built.
Test Stand 4697 will use hydraulic cylinders to subject the liquid oxygen tank and hardware of the massive SLS core stage to the same loads and stresses it will endure during a launch.
The stand is rising in Marshall’s West Test Area, where work is also underway on the 215-foot-tall towers of Test Stand 4693, which will be used to conduct similar structural tests on the SLS core stage’s liquid hydrogen tank.
SLS will be used to carry astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft on deep space missions, including the journey to Mars. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft.