It’s official – NASA will test the SLS rocket with another hot fire

Zoom in / SLS core position at NASA’s Stennis Space Center after firing on the Green Run test on January 16, 2021.

Trevor Mahlman

NASA has decided to re-test the large vehicle in mid-December after completing a review of data collected from its space launch system rocket’s hot fire test. The all-up engine shooting is scheduled to take place in the fourth week of February.

When Dec. 16 test shooting, The test was halted after 67.2 seconds when NASA thought to run the four main engines of the rocket for eight minutes. NASA says engine firing was halted due to a strict limit on hydraulic pressure in the thrust vector control mechanism used by the engines kimble or deflection.

In the days leading up to the test shooting in mid-December, NASA and Boeing officials were curious as to whether to test the rocket for a second time. Although it would be useful to obtain additional data, they said that with its four spacecraft main engines and large liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel tanks, with repeated test pressures, there would be concerns about placing the main stage. (SLS rocket is costly, so it is only payable at a time.)

According to the agency, the original hot fire test completed 15 of its 23 objectives. The other four objectives obtained most of the data searched, one-third was data, and one was not data. This is a test of how liquid oxygen tank pressure responds when liquid oxygen is often used and the tank is empty. Because the test objectives have not been met, engineers within the agency are urging NASA and Boeing leadership to conduct a second test to reduce the risk of failure during launch.

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On Friday, NASA made it official. “After evaluating data from the first hot fire and the previous seven Green Run tests, NASA and the lead level contractor decided that a second, longer hot fire test should be conducted by Boeing, and data that will help certify the critical phase for the aircraft that poses the least risk to the Artemis I core while delivering valuables. , “Space Company Said in a blog post.

Running the engines for four minutes during this second test should provide enough data to give confidence in core stage performance, but NASA said the main engines would shoot up to eight minutes if all went well.

Following the second hot fire test, it took a month to upgrade the core and its engines, assuming NASA and Boeing were getting the data they needed. The vehicle will then be loaded on a rock and sent to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is not likely to happen in late March or before April.

NASA says in its blog post that once in Florida, the SLS hub will be assembled with its solid rocket boosters and attached to the Orion spacecraft in preparation for its first launch “later this year”. However, with the 2021 SLS rocket launched from the Stennis Space Center in January, it is unlikely that the 2021 SLS rocket will be launched.

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