Boeing Moon Rocket passes NASA Test
Engines for the Artemis mission complete an eight-minute run, paving the way for a lunar flight this year
NASA photo of the platform for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in NASA’s B-2 Test Center at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.
NASA’s plans for a lunar mission this year are still on track after it was said to have been launched by a deep space rocket made by Boeing Co. passed Thursday’s main engine test.
The eight-minute ground test of the Space Launch System engines at the Aeronautics and Space Management facility in Mississippi followed an unsuccessful run in January that threatened the group’s broader target of returning U.S. astronauts to the moon before mid-decade.
The four engines previously used in the space shuttle program ran for the planned eight minutes during the latest experiment, twice as long as NASA said it needed to get enough data for a live rocket launched. During the January run, they stayed on for a little over a minute.
The test invigorates Boeing ‘s space program, which has suffered a number of problems in recent years. It’s also a fill for the program as Biden’s administration reviews NASA’s priorities and targets for missions to the moon and into deep space.
NASA is aiming to use an SLS rocket for its first planned lunar mission, called Artemis 1, in November. This would fly around the moon before returning the unmanned capsule to Earth. That schedule is still in flux, and NASA plans to review it in the coming weeks after the latest test.
Boeing is the main contractor on the SLS program. Their rockets and engines built by Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. will go. now moved to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida next month to be attached to an Orion crew capsule built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and large boosters manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corp.