NASA’s remarkable water system is making a splash all over the internet — as shown in the incredible video above, uploaded to YouTube by the space agency on Friday.
Known as the “Ignition Overpressure Protection and Sound Suppression (IOP/SS) water deluge system,” this mechanism plays a very important role during a rocket launch.
The main purpose of the IOP/SS is to reduce the tremendous amount of heat and energy generated during liftoff — by spraying the launch pad with an impressive quantity of water in order to cool it down.
In doing so, the deluge water system protects the rocket, the mobile launcher, and the launch pad from the sound pressure and the searing temperatures that are produced as the rocket blasts off into space.
Tested last week at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the system put on a jaw-dropping performance as it released 450,000 gallons of water over a NASA launch pad in under one minute, reports CNET.
According to the media outlet, the fantastic amount of water unleashed by the IOP/SS was enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
The amazing feat was caught on camera for everyone to marvel at, and shows that the space agency is more than capable of tackling the launch of a massive rocket such as the Space Launch System (SLS) — a NASA-Boeing enterprise touted as the most powerful rocket to ever be built.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the SLS is being developed to replace NASA’s retired Space Shuttle program, and will be ferrying astronauts to the moon and to Mars.
The rocket is scheduled to launch in June 2020, and will be riding on 8.4 million pounds of liftoff thrust. This will make it the first rocket to surpass the strength of the Saturn V, the most powerful space vehicle produced so far by mankind — and which was used by Apollo astronauts to fly to the moon.
This staggering thrust force means that the SLS’s engines and boosters will be generating a lot of noise, energy, and heat, Newsweek points out. Here’s where the IOP/SS comes in.
The water system will make sure that the rocket and the launchpad withstand the extreme liftoff conditions by releasing “approximately 450,000 gallons of water across the mobile launcher and flame deflector,” NASA explained in the video release.
The deluge water system was tested on October 15 on the 39B launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for the SLS’s maiden voyage — an unmanned flight around the moon dubbed Exploration Mission-1.
The footage captured during the test shows a spectacular geyser rising above the launch pad — as high as 100 feet into the air — and then cascading down in a glorious display of brute force.
Ahead of this latest IOP/SS test, the launch pad underwent a series of modifications designed to increase the system’s performance after a previous water flow verification.
Among the upgrades made to the system, Newsweek lists corrosion control, a spruce-up of the elevated water storage tank, and the replacement of several components — including much of the piping, valves, and nozzles.
The test “went very smoothly,” according to Kennedy pad senior project manager Regina Spellman.
“A geyser occurred because the mobile launcher was not present at the pad,” explained pad deputy project manager Nick Moss. “When the mobile launcher is sitting on its pad surface mount mechanisms, the rest of the system is connected to the pad supply headers and the water will flow through supply piping and exit through the nozzles.”
The deluge water system will be fired up again next summer, after the mobile launcher is once again rolled out on the pad for integrated testing.