NASA to Perform Second Test of Its Massive SLS Rocket Core

The core phase for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 test stand during a hot fire test on January 16, 2021 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. NASA television

NASA is currently testing the world’s largest rocket core stage, which is part of its Space Launch System (SLS) program, designed to transport astronauts to the moon and eventually on to Mars. However, the project was problematic and exceeded deadlines and budget. NASA has now announced that it will conduct a second hot fire test of the powerful SLS engines.

The hot fire test is the culmination of a series of test fires called the Green Run, where the core is turned on and the engines are fired together for the first time. The first hot fire test took place a few weeks ago, but although the engines fired successfully, they only fired about a minute instead of the planned eight minutes. Early data from the test indicated that automatic safety parameters shut down the engines after a problem with the drive’s hydraulic system occurred.

NASA states that no repairs are required to the SLS hardware and would now like to try the test again. “Inspections have shown that the core-stage hardware, including the engines, and the B-2 test rig are in excellent condition after the first heat burn test and no major repairs are required to prepare for a second heat burn test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, ”the agency wrote in a blog post.

There are plans to run another hot fire test for the entire eight minutes that simulates the time the engines would fire on a real start. According to NASA, the test can provide additional data on the operation of the engines and reduce the risk for future missions with SLS, for example the upcoming Artemis missions to the moon.

No fixed date has been set for the second hot fire test, but it could be the end of February.

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