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NASA’s lunar missile test on Saturday did not go as planned | Space



A huge cloud of smoke or vapor spilling from a high-rise test stand.

Watch bigger. | The core phase of the first NASA space launch rocket flight was seen during test B-2 during a hot fire test on January 16, 2021 at NASA’s Stanis Space Center near St. Louis Bay, Mississippi. Image via NASA.

An eight-minute planned firing attempt on the four engines of NASA’s space launch system (SLS) – a more powerful socket than the fifth Saturn that propelled Apollo’s astronauts to the moon – did not go as planned on Saturday, January 16, 2021. The test was conducted at NASA’s Stanis space center “A in Mississippi. The rocket is the one designed to launch the next man and woman to return to the moon by NASA’s Artemis program by 2024. The four engines on the accelerator stage were supposed to fire for the eight minutes they would have to fire during an actual launch.

NASA said in a statement:

The crew successfully completed the countdown and ignited the engines, but the engines shut down for a little over a minute to the hot fire. The teams look at the data to determine what caused the early shutdown, and will determine the way forward.

NASA Director Jim Breidenstein, who was present at the test, said:

The test on Saturday was an important step forward in ensuring that the core phase of the SLS rocket would be ready for the Artemis 1 mission [an uncrewed test mission whose launch had been planned for later this year], And carry a team for future missions. Although the engines did not operate for the entire period, the crew worked successfully in the countdown, ignited the engines and accumulated valuable data to announce our way forward.

Read more from NASA about the details of the January 16S test of NASA’s SLS megarocket

The January 16 test – called the Hot Fire Test – is set to be the culmination of a series of tests for the SLS megarocket. Originally scheduled to take place in early mid-November 2020, this final test was required to maintain its schedule ahead of the rocket’s launch of the Artemis 1 mission without a crew mid to the end of 2021 and eventually to the final crew. Launch to the moon in 2024.

Although the SLS test series began with a successful modal test – a type of vibration test – conducted in January 2020, the ongoing measles virus epidemic then slowed the testing process. Work on the site in Stanis was stopped by NASA leadership in March 2020, around the same time many in the US began working from home, due to the epidemic. The center began to reopen slowly in mid-May, and the second SLS test was completed in the core phase (the body of the orange missile) in late June.

This test has ensured that the software and other electrical interfaces involved in the rocket and test stand are working properly.

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

Watch bigger. | In a test on 16 January 2021, 4 RS-25 engines fired for just over a minute, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust. Image via NASA.

The rocket has since gone through the following four stages of what is known as the “Green Run” series:

Test 3, in which engineers inspected all safety systems that stopped operation during the inspection. During this test they simulated potential problems.

– Test 4, the first test of each of the components of the main propulsion system connected to the motors. Command and control operations were verified, and during the core fluid or gas leaks were checked.

– Test 5, in which the engineers ensured that the impulse vector control system could move the four engines and tested all related hydraulic systems.

– Test 6, which simulates the reverse countdown, including step-by-step refueling procedures. The main stage avionics was activated, and a simulation of impulse and pressure loading. The review team implemented and validated the timeline and event count.

A close-up of a single engine firing with white gases or vapor spilled from it.

The Hot Fire is the latest test of the Green Run series of tests, a comprehensive assessment of the core phase of the space launch system before embarking on the Artemis I mission to the moon. Image via NASA.

After the hot fire test on Jan. 16, the engineers planned to renovate the core phase and set it up for its journey to NASA’s Canadian Space Center in Florida, where more core phase awaits.

Now – with the Biden administration taking office on January 20, 2021, and with the failure of the January 16 test – the timing of the Artemis program is uncertain.

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

Chart with a list of 8 tests and a chart titled of SLS rocket fragments.

This graphic illustrates what is meant to test the 8 parts of the green run, as well as the individual components of the SLS (Orange Rocket Body) core phase. Image via NASA.

Bottom line: The failure of NASA’s SLS hot fire test on January 16, 2021 is a clear setback in NASA’s Artemis program. The first launch of the program – an unnamed mission called Artemis 1 – is slated to come out in late 2021. The program is intended to bring the next man and first woman back to the moon in 2024. Now that goal seems unlikely.

Through NASA

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