You Need Water to Launch a Rocket

During our recent trip to Kennedy Space Center, we learned how NASA is committed to reducing and reusing water in an unexpected way. 

Published September 01, 2017

Earlier this month, National Aquarium staff was on-site at Kennedy Space Center for the launch of the TDRS-M communications satellite. This satellite will help with continued exploration of both our blue planet and the solar system.


Photo courtesy of NASA's Kennedy Space Center. 

While at Kennedy Space Center, we went behind-the-scenes to learn more about NASA and exploration. On a tour of the Launch Pad 39B, the future launch site of the Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket—a rocket currently in development for deep space exploration —we learned just how NASA engineers utilize water to ensure the safe launch of different rockets!

The water system that will be used during an SLS rocket launch is NASA’s Ignition Overpressure and Sound Suppression System, which is similar to the system described here. This system will launch in just 40 seconds and release more than 450,000 gallons of water underneath the Space Launch System Rocket during testing. That’s enough water to fill two of our Shark Alley exhibits! Here is a video of the Sound Suppression system operating during a legacy Ares Test.

This water protects the Space Launch System Rocket, payloads and crew from the high energy generated during launch. It also acts as a barrier between the rocket and the launch pad to absorb acoustical energy reflected from the Mobile Launcher (ML) during launch. 

To reduce the amount of water used during testing, NASA utilizes advance water modeling software to test system performance, which saves millions of gallons of water! After launch, this water flows to holding tanks where it is treated, filtered and released back to the environment. 

We were happy to learn that NASA is committed to reducing and reusing water, just like us! From exploration to water usage, stay tuned for more stories from Kennedy Space Center and beyond. 

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