You are currently viewing Artemis 1 SLS core stage performs hot fire test
Credit: NASA/Danny Nowlin

Artemis 1 SLS core stage performs hot fire test

Less than 24 hours ago, on March 18, 2021, NASA together with its industry partners, performed an engine test of the Artemis 1 SLS core stage. The stage fired its four RS-25 rocket engines for eight minutes 19 seconds at the B-2 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The hot fire test was the final milestone in a series of tests called the Green Run Test. The Green Run test campaign was an eight-part test series to test the core stage’s systems ahead of the rocket’s first flight. During yesterday’s test firing of the four rocket engines, the involved engineers and technicians tested the engines’ capability to throttle up to maximum thrust and powering down to partial thrust like the rocket would during an actual launch. By moving the engine nozzles, NASA tested the rocket’s ability to steer itself during ascent.

The four RS-25 engines seen during the hot fire test. Credit: NASA
The four RS-25 engines seen during the hot fire test. Credit: NASA.
The Artemis 1 SLS core stage on the B-2 test stand at the Stennis Space Center. Credit: NASA
The Artemis 1 SLS core stage on the B-2 test stand at the Stennis Space Center. Credit: NASA.

Yesterday’s hot fire test was the second test firing of this particular stage. The first one on January 16, had to be aborted after about one minute due to technical problems.

The stage will now be loaded onto a barge and shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final assembly at the Vehicle Assembly Building.

The Space Launch System

The Space Launch System or SLS for short is a super heavy-lift launch vehicle currently under development and construction. With the gigantic, over 90 meters tall rocket, NASA plans to launch the next astronauts to the Moon. The Block 1 version, which will be used for the Artemis 1 mission, will be able to carry about 27 tons of cargo into orbits beyond Earth’s natural satellite.

The SLS Block 1 rocket consits of a 65 m tall first stage, which is loaded with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant for the four RS-25 rocket engines. The majority of thrust required for launch is provided by two Shuttle-derived five-segment solid rocket boosters attached to the first stage. Atop the core stage sits the rocket’s second stage, known as the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), which will be used to perform the orbital insertion burn and the trans-lunar injection burn to send the Orion crew capsule and its European Service Module towards the Moon.

All the components of the Artemis 1 Space Launch System rocket except the core stage, have already arrived at the Kennedy Space Center ahead of the mission.

Artist concept of a SLS Block 1 rocket during flight. Credit: NASA/MSFC.
Artist concept of a SLS Block 1 rocket during flight. Credit: NASA/MSFC.

The Artemis program and the Artemis 1 mission

The Artemis program is an international spaceflight program carried out by NASA and multiple other space agencies such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The primary goal of the program is to land the next astronauts on the lunar surface, demonstrate new technologies and capabilities and to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon. NASA also plans to use the Artemis program as a stepping stone towards manned missions to planet Mars.

Artemis 1 will be the first mission of the program and the maiden launch of the Space Launch System. The rocket will carry an uncrewed Orion capsule together with its European Service Module into space and on a journey around the Moon. The main objectives of the flight are to assure the safety of the astronauts onboard the Orion capsule, especially during re-entry, descent and splashdown. The rocket is scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch of the mission, was originally scheduled to occur at the end of 2021, however due to the issues during the first hot fire test, NASA will most likely delay the launch to early 2022.


Sources

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-mega-moon-rocket-passes-key-test-readies-for-launch

https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/multimedia/artemis-testing-sls-green-run-checklist-cropped.html

https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/overview.html

https://www.nasa.gov/what-is-artemis

https://www.nasa.gov/content/artemis-i-overview

Leave a Reply