Nasa successfully tests its most powerful rocket for Artemis mission to send astronauts to moon
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) on Friday announced that it successfully completed Green Run testing of the core stage of Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the largest rocket element it has ever built.
The test known as hot fire is a milestone for the space agency's Artemis I mission that will send an uncrewed spacecraft on a test flight around the moon and back to Earth for future missions with astronauts.
The core stage of the SLS rocket fired its four RS-25 engines for eight minutes and 19 seconds on Thursday at Nasa's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the moon on a single mission, claims the agency.
"The SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, and during today’s test the core stage of the rocket generated more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust within seven seconds. The SLS is an incredible feat of engineering and the only rocket capable of powering America’s next-generation missions that will place the first woman and the next man on the Moon,” said acting Nasa administrator Steve Jurczyk.
“Today’s successful hot fire test of the core stage for the SLS is an important milestone in NASA’s goal to return humans to the lunar surface – and beyond," he added.
The previous and the first hot fire test of the SLS core stage was conducted on January 16 which ended earlier than planned. The longer duration test provided the agency with a wealth of information on a variety of operational conditions, including moving the four engines in specific patterns, powering them up to 109 per cent, throttling down and back up as they will during the flight.
The core stage of the SLS rocket has a complex network of flight software and avionics systems to help fly, track and steer the rocket during launch and flight. The two propellant tanks in the core stage hold over 700,000 gallons of supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to fuel the engines.
Industry partners like Boeing, the prime contractor for the core stage, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the prime contractor for the RS-25 engines, are also involved in the mission.
The SLS rocket is one of the backbones of Nasa for deep space exploration. The agency's Artemis mission included preparations to send astronauts to Mars as part of America's Moon to Mars exploration approach.