NASA test-fired the core stage of its massive Space Launch System rocket in Mississippi on Thursday. The team appeared to clinch its second attempt at a hot-fire run after cutting short an initial firing in January. Pending a review of the test’s data, engineers are aiming to ship the rocket stage to Florida ahead of its debut test flight to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program.
Mounted in a behemoth test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, the 212-foot-tall rocket stage’s four RS-25 engines ignited together for over eight minutes to test the conditions of a real liftoff. NASA and its prime contractor Boeing needed to reach at least 4 minutes of continuous test time to call it a success. With eight minutes, “they should have gotten what they need,” NASA spokeswoman Leigh D’Angelo said.
“They clearly got the full duration they were after, which is really great news,” NASA’s Green Run campaign manager Bill Wrobel said right after the engines shut down. “Clearly there’s a lot of data that has to be analyzed”
The engine run was a crucial last step in the SLS program’s so-called Green Run test campaign. If the data checks out, it will make its way via boat to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final assembly. The rocket’s first launch, Artemis I, will send an uncrewed Orion astronaut capsule on a trip around the moon early next year.