RS-25 engine test during the Green Run of SLS.
(Photo : NASA/Robert Markowitz / Wikimedia Commons)
The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute and generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust. The hot fire is the final test of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon

After shutting down the first SLS moon rocket test for the Artemis mission, NASA officials clarify why the test was shut down. 

According to agency officials, despite the early shutdown of NASA's giant Space Launch System moon rocket after a minute earlier this week, the rockets are in good condition. 

NASA, on Saturday, NASA conducted a hot-fire test--the final test of the Green Run series--for the SLS rockets to be used in the Artemis I lunar mission.

Space Launch System Tests and Data

The four RS-25 engines blazed to life during the hot fire test at the Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. The said engines were supposed to burn for 485 seconds but were cut short to 67 seconds.

After careful analysis of data from the recently conducted tests, NASA explains that the problem was not related to hardware or the engine, which remain in excellent condition according to agency officials.

Instead, the premature shut down was triggered by conservative test parameters set to ensure the safety of the core stage during the hot fire tests.

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The parameters set referred to engine hydraulics--specifically, the gimbal designed for each engine during flight. During the tests on Saturday, the parameters of Engine2's were exceeded, which resulted in the test computers automatically cease the tests. 

NASA officials explain that the pre-programmed parameters were specifically designed for ground testing prior to the actual lift-off in hopes of ensuring the core stage's thrust vector control system and safety. 

Officials explain that if the same issue occurred during the actual flight, the SLS would be able to fly through it.

A major component failure was also generated at the core. However, officials clarified that the readings that occurred 1.5 seconds after the beginning of the tests did not contribute to the early shutdown but would result from instrumentation in Engine 4.

The SLS team would continue to investigate the major component failure readings. They will also delve deeper into reports of flashes observed near the engines near shut down. Although, visual inspection and sensor data have not shown any anomaly thus far.

The Space Launch System is critical for NASA's Artemis missions, which hope to land 2 astronauts near the south poles of the moon by 2047 and successfully establish permanent residence on the moon before the end of the decade.

The core testes will launch Artemi I missions, which is set to be an unmanned test flight of the Orion capsule orbiting the moon.

Artemis I is currently slated to lift off roughly in the last quarter of 2021 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It is unclear whether Saturday's events will have any effect on NASA's proposed timeline. The team behind the SLS is currently weighing whether a 2nd hot fire test is needed or not.

If the team decides to conduct a second hot fire test mounted in the B-2 stand, slight adjustments to the thrust vector control parameters can be made to prevent automatic shutdowns.

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