A huge cloud of smoke or steam poured out from the multi-story test platform.

View larger. | The base stage of the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System missile is seen on the B-2 test platform during a hot fire test on January 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Image via NASA.

An eight-minute planned launch test of the four engines of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLSMegarocket is stronger than Saturn V That drove the Apollo astronauts to the moon – it didn’t go as planned on Saturday, January 16, 2021. The test took place at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The rocket is the one that aims to launch the next man and the first woman on the way back to the moon by 2024 NASA’s Artemis Program. The four engines in the booster stage were supposed to run for the eight minutes they needed during the actual launch. Instead, the engines fired for only one minute.

NASA said in a statement:

The team successfully completed the countdown and lit the engines, but the engines stopped after just over a minute of hot fire. Teams are assessing data to determine the cause of the early shutdown, and will determine the path forward.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein, who attended the test, said:

Saturday’s testing was an important step forward to ensuring that the base stage of the SLS missile was ready for the Mission Artemis 1 [an uncrewed test mission whose launch had been planned for later this year]And carry the crew on future missions. Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team worked successfully during the countdown, ignited the engines and gained valuable data to inform our path forward.

Read more from NASA about the details of the January 16 test of NASA’s giant SLS spacecraft

The January 16th test – called a Hot shot test It was supposed to be the culmination of a series of tests for the SLS megarocket. Originally scheduled for early to mid-November 2020, this final test was necessary to keep its schedule on track for the missile being launched for the first time aboard the unmanned vessel. Artemis 1 The mission is in mid to late 2021, and ultimately, to the final launch of the crew to the moon in 2024.

Although the SLS test series started with success Conditional test – A kind of vibration test – conducted in January 2020, then the ongoing coronavirus pandemic slowed down the testing process. NASA leadership suspended work on the site at Stennis in March 2020, around the same time that many in the United States began working from home, due to the pandemic. The center began to slowly reopen in mid-May, and the second SLS test was completed in The basic stage (The orange “body” of the missile) late June.

This test confirmed that the program and other electrical interfaces included with the missile and Test platform work well.

Ground level view of 4 large down-firing rocket engines.

View larger. | On January 16, 2021, 4 RS-25 engines were launched for just over a minute and generate 1.6 million pounds of thrust. Image via NASA.

The missile has since passed and made the following four steps for its so-called “Green Run” series:

Test 3, in which engineers checked all safety systems that shut down operations during testing. During this test, they simulated potential issues.

The fourth test, the first test for each of the major propulsion system components that connect to the engines. Command and control operations have been verified, and primary stage checked for fluid or gas leaks.

– Test 5, in which engineers confirmed that the thrust vector control system can move the four motors and check all related hydraulic systems.

– Test 6, which simulates a countdown to launch, including step-by-step refueling procedures. The basic avionics were switched on, and fuel loading and pressure were simulated. Practice testing team and validate the countdown timeline and sequence of events.

Close up of a single engine emitting white gases or steam flowing from it.

Hot Blaze is the ultimate test of the Green Run Test series, which is a comprehensive evaluation of the space launch system’s base phase prior to the launch of the Artemis I mission to the moon. Image via NASA.

After the hot fire test on January 16, engineers planned to revamp and prepare the base stage for its flight to NASA Kennedy Space Center In Florida, where more tests are still awaiting the primary stage.

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Now – with the Biden administration taking power on January 20, 2021, and with the January 16 test failing – the scheduling of the Artemis program is uncertain.

Read more: How will the US space program perform under President Joe Biden?

Diagram with a list of 8 tests and a diagram titled Sections of an SLS missile.

This drawing shows what the eight sections of the Green Path are meant to test, as well as the individual components of the SLS Primary Stage (Orange missile body). Image via NASA.

Bottom line: NASA’s SLS megarocket hot-fire test failure on January 16, 2021 is a clear setback for NASA’s Artemis program. The first launch in the program – an unmanned mission called Artemis 1 It was supposed to be launched in late 2021. The goal of the program was to bring the next man and first woman back to the moon by 2024. It seems unlikely now.



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