Getting ready to launch something into space is a difficult thing to do, and if something goes wrong there is a very good chance that the entire mission will be a failure. This is why NASA has a long checklist of things that needs to made sure of before a rocket is launched into place. These tests are done one the rocket itself, the payload, and additional tests are done for human flight.
Checklist for the rocket
There are a huge number of tests that are done one a rocket before it leaves the launch pad. These tests are designed to make sure that the rocket will not blow up, that it will perform correctly, and that its backup systems are in good condition. These test include:
- Test are done on the main boosters that will carry the rocket off of the launch pad
- Each segment of the main rocket is tested to make sure that the igniters, controls, and the propellant is in good condition.
- Each one of the separators are tested to make sure that they are in good condition. The separators are tested to make sure that the segments will go apart, and that the proceeding segments are able to work properly.
- The directional controls are tested to make sure that small alterations can be made to the flight path of the rocket as it proceeds off of the launch pad.
The payload is also tested in order to make sure that it will work properly once it is released into space. This includes:
- Tests to make sure that it will be able to leave the rocket
- The onboard control system is tested so the payload will be able to keep itself in orbit
- That the flight system will be able to direct the payload in flight
- Tests on the solar array to make sure they will be able to produce power for the payload
If the rocket will be carrying humans, a large number of additional tests are done on the rocket. This includes tests on both the astronauts and the life support system.
- There is a checklist for each one of the astronauts to make sure that they are ready for flight
- A physical exam to make sure they are not sick
- Mental tests to make sure they will be able to perform in space
- Overall tests on the life support system
- Tests on the oxygen supply and oxygen recycling system
- Tests on the toilets, lighting, food, and water supplies