back to article NASA's mighty SLS to burn 1.215 Olympic-sized pools

Last week, NASA successfully test fired the first RS-25 flight engine which will one day help the Space Launch System (SLS) slip the surly bonds of Earth. Artist's impression of the SLS launch. PIC: NASA Throw in a couple of solid rocket boosters and we're away. Artist's impression of an SLS launch. Pic: NASA The SLS core …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the depth varies along the length. I can more easily imagine a 13.6m cube of liquid

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you sure? I thought olympic pools were traditionally flat-bottomed (those swimmers have no need for a shallow end)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You're probably right. 2m sounded quite shallow for diving from starting blocks.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Pool depth

        Swimming Pools for Olympic Games and World Championships:[3]

        minimum 2.0 m (6 ft 7 in); recommended 3.0 m (9 ft 10 in)

        so an olympic pool can contain 1.5 olympic pools.

        Some olympic pools can be deeper... and in fact shallower.

        1. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

          Re: Pool depth

          Quite like a piece of string then?

  2. Dan Wilkie

    How will they stop the LOX/Hydrogen evaporating from the swimming pool though?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge


      By covering it with an insulating layer of aerogel-filled Bulgarian airbags, apparently

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Airbags

        You still wouldn't want anyone smoking nearby.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Airbags

          If someone did smoke nearby, at least you'd not have to worry about sacking them.

          Steven "fw-BOOM" R

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Airbags

            I'd imagine you would need a sack. And a broom.

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: Airbags

              imanidiot - nah, the blast front would take care of that little problem.

              Steven "morbid" R

      2. Camilla Smythe

        Re: Airbags

        For our purposes, these are considered to measure 50 metres long by 25 metres wide and with a depth of 2 metres, containing 2,500 cubic metres of water or, in this case, liquid hydrogen and LOX.

        CF: Later smoking comments..

        does not quite fit the bill but the question becomes...

        Would it be possible, with care, to fill any swimming pool with the required ultimately combustible and stoichiometric mix of Liquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen but, on the assumption that the liquids might be immiscible and can be maintained as liquids despite the temperature differential float one layer on top of the other, add a straw along with a cherry, slice of lemon and a couple of olive's and then, assuming a cool blue colour, upload a picture of Lester sitting by the pool with a big smile on his face in his y-fronts speedos with a "12.5 Bulgarian Airbags Equivalent" tattoo on his 'gut'?

      3. choleric

        Re: Airbags

        And there was me thinking the Bulgarian Airbags would be for a soft landing in the event of a crash.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    That's why that big orange tank... is well... so big.

    1. emmanuel goldstein

      That big orange tank has a height of 64.6 metres and a radius of 4.2 metres, for a volume of 1.4304 Olympic-sized swimming pools. More than enough, even allowing for it being subdivided into two tanks - one for the liquid oxygen and one for the liquid hydrogen.

      1. cray74

        subdivided into two tanks - one for the liquid oxygen and one for the liquid hydrogen.

        Side note: I've found the shuttle external tank to be an interesting demonstration of just how bizarrely low the density of liquid hydrogen is: the hydrogen tank, holding 100 tons of liquid hydrogen, is twice the volume of the oxygen tank, which holds 600 tons of liquid oxygen at slightly-greater-than water's density.

  4. yakitoo

    Is this...

    using the special emissions test software?

  5. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Needless confusion!?!!?!

    Surely, a family sized pool depends on the size and composition of the family.

    A family of Chinese dwarfs adhering to the old one-child-per family rule wouldn't require a big pool at all, while a good catholic family with poor dietary habits may need a really big one (probably not far off Olympic size).

    Then, you'd think the family would pick a pool depending on budget and what they want to do in the pool.

    Too many variables here to consider. I'm confused. I need beer.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Needless confusion!?!!?!

      And that's exactly why we have the Olympic-sized pool as the standard.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Needless confusion!?!!?!

        And this is why NASA have crashed a probe into Mars and El Reg haven't.

        All Hail the El Reg Standards Soviet!

        And despite this, the FAA certify NASA and not El Reg. It's a travesty I tell you.

      2. JeffyPoooh

        Re: Needless confusion!?!!?!

        "...Olympic-sized pool..."

        Cue lawyer's letter in 3, 2, 1... from your local Olympic organization threatening legal action if you don't stop using the O-word.

        Crikey. They even sent a threatening letter to Olympus Mons, just out of habit.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Carbon emissions?

    So how many trees are they planting to offset this?

    1. Uffish

      Re: Carbon emissions?

      None, but they plan on giving existing trees a good watering every time they launch.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Carbon emissions?

      That's the nice thing about burning hydrogen with oxygen, all you produce is water, no CO2 at all.

      (Of course, manufacturing the fuels and chilling them, not to mention the manufacturing of the rocket will all require a fair amount of energy. And by 'fair amount' I mean, "bloody loads").

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Each Rocketdyne F-1 engine (Saturn V, first stage) consumes 2,542 litres/s (671.4 US gals/sec) of oxidiser and RP-1!

    1. asdf

      golf clap for today's NASA

      Yep congratulations to NASA in many ways for getting to where they were 50 years ago. As Neil deGrasse Tyson said our space program looks more impressive if you change the flow of time backwards (to Apollo).

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Puny....

      How to explain Saturn V...

      50,000 horsepower.


      Just the fuel pump. 50,000 horsepower. Fuel pump. 50,000 horsepower fuel pump.


      That's each. Five of them.

      "But but but..."

      250,000 horsepower of flippen fuel pumps. You keeping up?

      1. asdf

        Re: Puny....

        Yeah I remember seeing the enormous engines of the Queen Mary which also total put out six digit horsepower which was mindblowing but don't think she only had five pumps reliably pumping over a ton of fuel a second like the Saturn V.

        1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: Puny....

          But the Queen Mary II can keep it up for weeks at a time, only limited by the need to stop for refueling (passengers and fuel stores). If that translated to space travel ... cue Wall-E imagery ...

  8. tskears

    Still resisting pressure to go metric...

    Scientific American, February, 1866:

    "Let Congress pass an act declaring that, after the first of January, 1867, the French system of weights and measures (metric) shall be the legal system of the country".

    The Register, March, 2016:

    "Let Congress pass an act declaring that, after the first of January, 2017, the Olympic Swimming Pool shall be the legal system of measuring rocket fuel burn".

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Herby

    Family sized swimming pools...

    For most of them, they are around 20,000 gallons. This number is needed to calculate the amount of chlorine stuff to add to make the water be nice and blue (not green with algae, which WILL happen if you don't pay attention (been there, done that!).

    I'll leave it to others to do unit conversion (metric, or Register as necessary).

    1. CCCP

      Re: Family sized swimming pools...

      Second that. Ours, well, the one that came with the rented house, is 85,000 l. Close enough to 20,000 gallons.

      It was interesting to work out because it's sort of a 90 degree triangle, but the hypotenuse is 'Z' shaped.

      But we digress, as already stated, Olympice Size Pools is a safer measure.

    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Family sized swimming pools...

      So 20,000 gallons is the size of most family swimming pools, but most families don't have a swimming pool, so the average (mean) is close to zero, the mode and median are zero. I think NASA might have trouble getting the SLS off the ground.

    3. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Family sized swimming pools...

      Our family 'swimming pool' is about 4 billion gallons, but it's a lake.

      1. asdf

        Re: Family sized swimming pools...

        Lakes (and hotsprings) here stateside especially in the south can contain that brain eating amoeba (among other nasties) though. Bring on the pool chemicals I say.

        1. Ru'

          Re: Family sized swimming pools...

          That explains so much!...

  11. Alan Edwards

    1,500 gallons a second.

    So, about the same fuel consumption as an Escalade V8 then, possibly *slightly* less :)

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