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NASA to Address Hot Fire Test of Rocket for Artemis Moon Missions

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NASA will host a media teleconference to discuss the hot fire test in the Green Run testing series for the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will launch the agency’s Artemis I mission, NASA reported on Wednesday. 

The test will occur at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. For the test, engineers will power up all the core stage systems, load more than 700 thousand gallons of cryogenic propellant into the tanks, and fire all four engines at the same time to simulate the rocket’s core stage operation during launch.

In Jan. 2021, NASA conducted the first hot fire of the Artemis I core stage. NASA conducted a hot fire of the core stage for the agency’s SLS rocket. The test plan called for the rocket’s four RS-25 engines to fire for a little more than eight minutes.

"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 former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, who attended the test. 

The team successfully completed the countdown and ignited the engines, but the engines shut down a little more than one minute into the hot fire. Teams have worked to assess the data to determine what caused the early shutdown to determine a path forward.

In the first test, the agency ignited all four RS-25 engines successfully. NASA will leverage the data from the first test and the seven prior Green Run tests, to prepare for the final hot fire test. 

The core stage lead contractor, Boeing, and NASA  determined that a second, longer hot fire test would provide greater data to help certify the core stage for flight and pose minimal risk to the Artemis I core stage. 

The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, plumbing, and the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the “brains” of the rocket. Artemis I will test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon.

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