NASA’s mega moon rocket passes a major test

NASA hopes to launch Artemis I in 2021 as an unmanned aircraft and aims to send humans back to the moon by 2024.

Mankind is one step closer to returning to the moon, with NASA successfully completing a major milestone in its latest rocket tests.

The main rocket stage of NASA’s Launch Space System (SLS), the largest rocket element ever built by NASA, launched its four engines at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The so-called hot fire test is an important milestone ahead of NASA’s Artemis I mission. This is the final test of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the basic SLS level.

The space agency aims to launch an unmanned spacecraft on a flight around the moon and back to Earth, which is scheduled to take place later this year.

NASA had already conducted a hot fire test on an SLS rocket earlier this year. However, the engines did not shut down quickly after just over one minute.

After analyzing the data from the test, the group’s officials said that the exclusion was “motivated by test parameters that were deliberately designed to ensure safety at the basic level of the test. ”.

‘Important milestone’

The second hot fire test yesterday ran for over eight minutes, which is the time required to launch the moon.

NASA said it tested a number of operating conditions, including the movement of the four engines in specific patterns to control stress and power the engines up to 109pc power, smearing down and on. back up, as they would be at the time of flight.

John Honeycutt, manager of the SLS program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said the second test provided the “data richness” needed.

“During this test, the team carried out new operations with the main stage for the first time, again carried out some emergency operations, and recorded test data to help us confirm that the main stage is ready for the first and future for SLS for NASA’s Artemis program, ”he said.

NASA action administrator Steve Jurczyk said the latest hot fire test is “an important milestone” in NASA’s goal of returning humans to the moon.

“The SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built,” he said. “The SLS is incredible in engineering and the only rocket capable of powering next-generation missions in America that will launch the first and next woman on the moon.”

Next, the platform for SLS will be upgraded, then sent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There, the platform will be assembled with the hard rocket boosters and other parts of NASA’s Orion rocket and spacecraft.

In addition to an unprepared test flight planned or later this year, NASA hopes to return humans to the Moon by 2024.

However, according to Reuters, the SLS program is three years behind schedule and nearly $ 3bn over budget.