Green Run rocket test encounters shutdown with MCF on engine 4
20 Janvier, 2021, 01:10 | Auteur: Therese Cote
However, the plan was to fire the engines for over 8 minutes, and it's not yet clear why the engines shut down early.
But a spokeswoman for NASA on Tuesday said preliminary findings indicated the cause of the difficulties likely stemmed from how the test was set up for the Space Launch System booster designed by Boeing Co., rather than malfunctions or defects with the engines themselves.
The truncated test has again raised questions about the SLS program, which is already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. NASA didn't immediately answer whether the weekend's curtailed test firing would affect that schedule. If this same issue crops up during an actual flight, the SLS will be able to fly through it, they added.
In the private briefing, officials provided more detail, saying that the movement of the engines, known as "gimbaling", was "much more vigorous" than previous gimbal tests in which the engines were not ignited, according to the notes of the participant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly. As a result, the hydraulic pressure dropped below the limit and triggered the engine shutdown. During the trial, however, they came across a major component failure (MCF) on the engine 4. On Saturday, the preset parameters for Engine 2's system were exceeded, and the core stage's flight computers ended the test automatically, NASA officials wrote in the update.
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NASA, Boeing (the primary SLS contractor), and Aerojet Rocketdyne (builder of the RS-25 engines) are investigating the problem. "You want to launch with full redundancy". According to the SLS program manager of NASA, John Honeycutt, the engineers spotted a flash near the engine 4, probably near a thermal protection blanket around the engine.
In the private briefing, officials said there were no "indications of any leaks or fire". If another test is required, it would take between three and four weeks to prepare, they said.
Saturday's test of the 212-foot-tall Space Launch System (SLS) core stage was going smoothly at the start, with all four engines igniting correctly, but the early shutdown has left teams involved with the mission piecing together what exactly went wrong, NASA reported in a press release.
Support teams across the Stennis test complex provided high-pressure gases to the test stand, delivered all operational electrical power, supplied more than 330,000 gallons of water per minute to protect the test stand flame deflector and ensure the structural integrity of the core stage, and captured data needed to evaluate the core stage performance. At the announcement of the Green Run in 2019, Administrator of NASA Jim Bridenstine listed astronaut safety as the top priority and main reason for testing. Yesterday, its core stage was put through its paces in a hot fire test at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, as the culmination of a test series called the Green Run.
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