The “hot fire” test of NASA’s central stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was successfully carried out this Thursday (18), at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, in Mississippi (United States) ). The equipment is part of the Artemis Project, which will take astronauts back to the Moon.
According to the American space agency, the four SLS RS-25 engines were on for 8 minutes and 19 seconds, generating more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust in seven seconds. It is important to remember that the rocket does not leave the ground in this type of test, whose objective is to simulate the functioning of the equipment during the launch of the mission.
It took 499.6 seconds to work, generating a gigantic cloud of white smoke that could be seen even from space. During this time, the entity also tested several operational conditions, such as the direction of thrust and the increase in engine power by up to 109%, simulating situations with the possibility of occurring in real flight.
This was the second hot flight test of NASA’s megafog, which is 65 meters long (including all parts) and is the largest ever built by the agency. In the first, which took place on January 16, the RS-25 engines had to be turned off ahead of time, due to a failure, remaining on for just one minute.
With the rocket’s central stage working as expected, the equipment’s launch pad will now be refurbished and shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There, the SLS will be fully assembled, with solid rocket boosters and the rest, together with the Orion spacecraft.
NASA plans to make the first real flight of the system as early as 2021, an essential step for the Artemis Project. In this first phase, the Orion capsule will be sent to take a tour around the Moon and then return to Earth, in an unmanned mission.