January 25, 2021

Sambaad Patra

Stay updated. Always.

NASA plans to fire up its massive SLS moon rocket this month – CNET

2 min read

The latest SLS Green Run tests are taking place at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

NASA

NASA has big hopes for 2021, and one of its main goals is to launch Artemis I, an uncrewed moon mission meant to show that its Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket will be able to send humans to our lunar neighbor. But first, NASA plans to make some noise with a fiery SLS test this month.

NASA is nearing the end of the Green Run test series that puts the core stage — which the agency describes as “the backbone of the SLS rocket” — through its paces before it actually launches off this rock sometime in the future. 

The eighth and final part of the test series could happen as soon as Jan. 17 when NASA initiates an exciting hot fire. 

“The upcoming hot fire test will fire all four of the stage’s RS-25 engines simultaneously for up to eight minutes to simulate the core stage’s performance during launch,” said NASA in a statement on Tuesday. 

SLS has seen delays during its development, but it’s still at the heart of NASA’s ambitious plans to take humans back to the moon by 2024 through the Artemis program. A report from last year calls that date into question based on the costs of the program, the SLS setbacks and scheduling impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.

Test fires are a lot of fun, as we saw last year when an SLS booster lit up the Utah desert and turned sand into glass.

The SLS Green Run test will take place at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and it comes after NASA worked through an unexpected issue with a previous test, a wet dress rehearsal that “marked the first time cryogenic, or super cold, liquid propellant was fully loaded into, and drained from, the SLS core stage’s two immense tanks.”

The wet dress rehearsal cut off slightly early, but NASA tracked the problem down to a timing issue that was later corrected and that shouldn’t impact the hot fire. If all goes well, then NASA will still be on track for a possible late 2021 launch of Artemis I. 

Each successful test puts the moon a little closer in reach of human hands.

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