NASA's Boeing Moon Rocket Set For "Once-In-A-Generation" Ground Test

17 Janvier, 2021, 06:52 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • NASA takes delivery of Orion Artemis I spacecraft

NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 4 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 16, for the hot fire test of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Mounted in a test facility at NASA's Stennis Space Center in MS, the Space Launch System's (SLS) 212-foot tall core stage roared to life at 4:27 pm local time (2227 GMT) for just over a minute - well short of the roughly four minutes engineers needed to stay on track for the rocket's first launch in November this year.

When it does launch on Artemis I, SLS will boost an uncrewed Orion capsule toward the moon for a weeks-long test flight, setting the stage for future Artemis missions with astronauts on board.

The hot fire will simulate the thrust the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust as it burns through more than 700,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for more than eight minutes. In these latter configurations, the SLS will be the most powerful rocket NASA has built since the Apollo Era and the retiring of the venerable Saturn V rocket.

It's not yet clear why the engines powered down after little more than a minute. Not only was it the first time that the four RS-25 engines fired together, but the process also validated many key systems and allowed the mission controllers to gather data from the Core stage as its many integrated components worked together.

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The engine fire test is the last crucial test in a series of tests known as the Green Run.

Once testing is complete, the Core Stage will be mated with two expendable Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) like the Space Shuttle.

NASA planned on sending the Space Launch System's core to the Kennedy Space Center in February to combine with the Orion spacecraft, but that is now in doubt.

After fears that it might require disassembly, Lockheed Martin has completed work on the Artemis I Orion spacecraft and has formally transferred possession to NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA's SLS programme manager John Honeycutt, cautioning the data review from the test is ongoing, told reporters the turnaround time for another hot fire test could be roughly one month. "This powerful rocket is going to put us in a position to be ready to support the agency and the country's deep-space mission to the moon and beyond". Live coverage begins at 4:20 p.m.

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