A critical NASA missile test ended its shutdown on Saturday, just over a minute later than it was planned to be an eight-minute test. This pilot was a vital checkpoint for NASA A much-delayed space launch system. SLS is set to play a major role in the agency’s Artemis program aimed at returning astronauts to the moon.
During the Green Run test today, The four rocket engines fired into the SLS core for just over a minute while installed on NASA’s missile test platform. The team had planned to launch the engines for about eight minutes, or roughly the same time it would take to launch future missions to the moon.
Instead, about a minute after the test broadcast from NASA, a voice is heard saying “We’ve got the MCF.” [major component failure] On engine 4. “Soon after, the engines stopped.
The NASA Blog reported that the flight program had finished testing. “At this point, the test was fully automatic. During firing, the software on board behaved appropriately and proceeded to the safe shutdown of the engines,” NASA statement says.
Boeing’s SLS program manager John Shannon said at a press conference earlier this week that the engineering team had been hoping for at least 250 seconds of hot fire test. “[If] “We had an early shutdown, for whatever reason, we’re getting all the engineering data we need to have a high confidence in the car in about 250 seconds,” said Shannon. During that time, they planned to get the engines moving through a series of maneuvers designed to test the engines’ response as they were ignited.
It looks like they got much less data than the 250 seconds they were hoping for. The data that they were able to obtain were collected by about 1,400 sensors during the test. Among other things, the sensors monitored the core for vibration, temperature, acoustics, and pressure. Despite the test brief, those sensors collected a lot of data that could ultimately help NASA determine the path forward.
The SLS has been in development for years, and was originally scheduled to debut its journey in 2017. Instead, the Suffer from delays and grossly over budget. NASA had postponed the launch of the missile for the first time to November 2021, and is still hoping to set this launch date. Even after the delay in December 2020 in the test schedule.
The missile being tested today was to be part of that first launch – and it is Unmanned mission called Artemis I. That would send NASA’s Orion spacecraft around the moon. It’s unclear how today’s test results might affect the schedule for that task.
NASA plans to hold a press conference tonight about two hours after the test.