So just how well did the SLS tank stand up to the most punishing test yet?
With this last hurdle overcome (it was the largest-ever controlled test-to-failure of a NASA rocket stage pressurized tank), and the previous ones aced, the fuel tank (not the one that blew up, of course) is deemed ready for operation.
How do you test a tank that's 130 feet tall?
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Not only did the tank prove that it could withstand some serious pressure - it performed in line with what was predicted by a Boeing analysis team. Up to 3 million pounds of compression and 1 million pounds of tension, to be exact. On Dec. 5, engineers at Marshall applied the pressure and kept squeezing.
The space agency intends to use the rocket as part of its Artemis program, which plans to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024. The test ultimately resulted in the failure of the tank, but that's exactly what NASA says it was going for. The liquid hydrogen tank "withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads over five hours before engineers detected a buckling point, which then ruptured", NASA said.
While there's no specific date set so far for the first Artemis launch, you can check out NASA's general timeline of proposed missions between 2020 and 2024 here.
For all of these tank tests, both NASA and Boeing engineers simulated a liftoff with the flight stresses that come along with that. "The accuracy of these predictions against real life testing validates our structural models and provides high confidence in the tank design".