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

James Marshall
January 17, 2021

NASA's rocket charged with taking the agency back to the moon fired its four main engines Saturday afternoon, but the test in MS was cut short after a malfunction caused an automatic abort.

Editor's note: This advisory was updated January 16 to update the window for the hot fire test, as well as start time for NASA TV coverage. Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has completed assembly and testing of the Orion Artemis I spacecraft and has transferred possession to NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team today.

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The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, and the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the "brains" of the rocket.

Test fires are so much fun, as we saw a year ago when it was The SLS booster lit up the Utah Desert And sand turned into glass.

NASA's SLS schedule still has Artemis I as early as November with Artemis II, a crewed mission around the moon without landing, by 2023 and then a 2024 flight that aims to put the first woman on the moon.

Prior to the shutdown, NASA was able to power up the whole system, load more than 700,000 gallons of propellant into the tanks, and simultaneously fire the engines in the style of a launch.

It's the eighth and final test in the series of Green Run tests for the core stage since arriving to Stennis.

The mission called Artemis-1, which is carried out without a crew on board, will also launch the next generation of spacecraft, Orion, around the month. Critics have long argued for NASA to retire the rocket's shuttle-era core technologies, which have launch costs of $1 billion or more per mission, in favor of newer commercial alternatives that promise lower costs.

The B-2 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The total test fire lasted for a little over a minute, with the engines cutting out at 4:29:07 CST (a total burn time of about 76 seconds). Two of the solid-fuel boosters will strap to the core stage and provide about 75% of the force required to heave SLS off its launch pad and toward space during the first two minutes of flight.

Clouds are seen behind the NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center February 7, 2008 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The launch later this year will be the start of many of Artemis' missions to the moon. NASA's SLS program manager John Honeycutt, told reporters the turnaround time for another hot fire test could be roughly one month.

NASA is giving itself two hours to conduct the core stage's liquid-fuel test on Saturday, which can begin as soon as 4 p.m. ET.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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