NASA’s deep space exploration rocket, built by Boeing, hit all four engines of its core stage of the ignition for the first time, but the crucial test was made short.
Confirmed in a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the nearly 65-foot-high core stage of the Space Launch System burst to life in just over a minute – well short of the nearly four minutes engineers needed on the runway to stay ahead of the rocket’s first launch in November this year.
“Today was a good day,” NASA Director Jim Bridenstine told a news conference after the test, adding “we have a lot of data we can sort through” to determine if a do-over is needed and whether a launch date for debut of November 2021 is still possible.
The ‘hot fire’ engine test was a vital step for the space agency and contractor Boeing for a debut unmanned launch later this year under NASA’s Artemis program, the Trump administration’s pressure to return US astronauts by 2024 .
It was unclear whether Boeing and NASA would have to repeat the test, a prospect that could push the 2022 debut launch. NASA’s SLS program manager John Honeycutt told reporters that the lead time for another hot fire test could be roughly one month.
To simulate internal conditions of a real takeoff, the rocket’s four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines fired for roughly one minute and 15 seconds, consuming millions of gallons of fuel at NASA’s largest test stand, a massive facility that ‘ t has 35 stories high.
The super heavy lift spacecraft to be used is three years behind schedule and nearly $ 3 billion above budget. Critics have long pleaded with NASA to retire the missile shuttle’s nuclear shuttle core technologies, which have launch costs of $ 1 billion or more per mission, in favor of newer commercial alternatives that cost less. tasizze.
NASA and Boeing engineers have stayed on a ten-month schedule for the Green Run “despite having a lot of opposition this year,” Boeing’s John Shannon told reporters this week, citing five tropical storms and a hurricane that ” t Stennis hit, like a three-month closure after some engineers tested positive for the coronavirus in March.