NASA rocket test shuts down early

NASA tested its Space Launch System (SLS)rocket on Saturday, hitting a snag when engines shut down only a minute into the trial.

The trial needed the rocket’s engines to fire for just over eight minutes, the same length of time it would take to send it up into space following launch.

The trial of the SLS rocket, which will launch the Artemis I mission to the Moon, was successful in the countdown and engine ignition, but saw them shut down in just over a minute.

NASA said teams were currently assessing the data to determine what caused the early shutdown.

For the test, the 212-foot core stage generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust, while anchored in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The ‘hot fire test’ involved loading 733,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen – mirroring the launch countdown procedure – and igniting the engines.

"Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission, and to carry crew on future missions,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, who attended the test. “Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team successfully worked through the countdown, ignited the engines, and gained valuable data to inform our path forward.”

John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said: “Seeing all four engines ignite for the first time during the core stage hot fire test was a big milestone for the Space Launch System team.”

He added: “We will analyse the data, and what we learned from today’s test will help us plan the right path forward for verifying this new core stage is ready for flight on the Artemis I mission.”

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