NASA Moves Final SLS Hot Fire Test to January 16, Here's How to Watch

NASA ready for final SLS test 1 photo
Photo: NASA
This weekend, the American space agency was planning to begin preparations for the final fire test of the Space Launch System rocket. The initial plan was to have the test conducted on January 17, but that was moved up by a day.
In an announcement made earlier this week, NASA said it now plans on running the test today, January 16, at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, with the two-hour test window opening at 5 p.m. EST. The goal remains the same: load up 700,000 gallons of cryogenic fuel into the tanks of the rocket, and fire all four RS-25 engines of the core stage at the same time. The burn is scheduled to last for up to eight minutes, simulating an actual launch.

SLS is the workhorse that will enable and power the Artemis program missions. That’s the name of the agency’s new Moon exploration program, which should kick off later this year with the Artemis I - a dry run to the moon meant to test the performance, life support, and communication capabilities of the Orion capsule, the spaceship SLS is meant to launch into space.

In 2023, Artemis II is scheduled to lift off with astronauts on board, go to the Moon, but not land them there. It will be Artemis III the one to actually put American boots on lunar soil, and that should happen in 2024.

If it proves successful during the Artemis missions, SLS will continue to be used beyond that. NASA plans to have it on the ramp for future missions to Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.

The rocket comprises the core stage with four RS-25 engines, but also two side boosters, the “largest, most powerful boosters ever made.” Combined, they generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust during launch.

The core stage is manufactured by Boeing, while the RS-25 engines, the same used on the space shuttle, only upgraded, are the work of Aerojet Rocketdyne. The boosters are the products of Northrop Grumman.

Today's test will be aired on NASA TV, and you can watch it here.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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