NASA Says SLS Ready for a Second Hot Fire Test, Coming in Late February

NASA to test the SLS core stage engines two more times 1 photo
Photo: NASA
In mid-January, NASA conducted what was supposed to be the final and most important test for the Space Launch System rocket that will support the Artemis Moon exploration program. The test failed, as in it ended abruptly, just one minute into the burn – the test was supposed to last for eight minutes.
The failure was blamed on several factors, including the “conservative control logic parameters” of the flight computer and the faulty electrical harness. None of these issues are major enough to halt the program moving forward, it seems.

The American space agency announced last week it is now planning a second hot fire test sometime in the last week of February. It does so after evaluating, together with Boeing, the risks posed by a second attempt.

Apparently, it was determined that “a second, longer hot fire test should be conducted and would pose minimal risk to the Artemis I core stage while providing valuable data to help certify the core stage for flight.” The abrupt end of the previous test aslo caused no damage to the B-2 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Even so, NASA will not go for the full eight-minute burn of the core stage’s four RS-25 engines, but will only fire them up for four minutes. A third hot fire test, to be conducted at a later date, will see the engines operating for the full duration, simulating the time it needs the rocket to defeat Earth’s gravity.

After the last test is conducted (no data on when that would be), the core stage will be refurbished for about a month and then sent to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be assembled with the other components of the SLS rocket, including the Orion capsule.

Once assembled, the rocket is ready for departure in what will become the Artemis I mission, a dry-run to the Moon in preparation of the planned human return there.
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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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