Friday, September 22, 2023

NASA cuts short ground test of giant lunar rocket | Space News

Must read


The test is a vital step in NASA’s Artemis program to place the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024.

NASA fired all four engines of a distant space exploration rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS) – for the first time on Saturday, but the “hot fire” test ended much earlier than expected.

Mounted at a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the 212-foot (65-meter) high SLS central stage erupted at 4:27 p.m. local time (10:27 p.m. GMT) for a bit longer. a minute – the roughly four minutes it takes engineers to stay on track for the mega-rocket’s first launch in November of this year.

During the live broadcast of the test, NASA did not explain the reason for the premature shutdown, but Wayne Hale, a former director of the NASA space shuttle program, suggested “major component failure.”

The fiery spectacle, the final leg of NASA’s nearly year-long ‘Green Run’ test campaign, was a vital milestone for the space agency and its main SLS subcontractor, Boeing, before the launch of the rocket in November.

The success of this unmanned mission, called “Artemis 1”, will pave the way for the first human landing on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. US President Donald Trump has been pushing for this trip – which will also see the first. woman on the Moon – coming by 2024.

It was not clear whether Boeing and NASA should repeat Saturday’s test, a prospect that could push the first launch into 2022.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, speaking at a press conference after the test, said the agency “had a lot of data that we are going to be able to sift through” to determine if a redesign was needed.

NASA’s SLS program director John Honeycutt warned that the review of test data was continuing and told reporters the turnaround time for another hot fire test could be around a month.

The consumable super-heavy SLS is three years overdue and nearly $ 3 billion over budget.

Critics have long argued for NASA to abandon core shuttle-era rocket-era technologies, which have launch costs of $ 1 billion or more per mission, in favor of new commercial alternatives that promise lower costs.

By comparison, it costs just $ 90 million to fly the massive, but less powerful, SpaceX-designed and manufactured Falcon Heavy rocket by Elon Musk, and around $ 350 million per launch for United’s legacy Delta IV Heavy. Launch Alliance.

While newer, more reusable rockets from both companies – SpaceX’s Starship and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan – promise heavier lift capacity than the Falcon Heavy or the Delta IV Heavy, potentially at a lower cost, SLS supporters have done so. argue that it would take at least two launches on these. rockets to launch what the SLS could carry in a single mission.

Reuters reported in October that President-elect Joe Biden’s space advisers aim to delay Trump’s target to 2024, casting new doubts on SLS’s long-term fate as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin scramble to bring to market a new rival heavy transport capacity. .

NASA and Boeing engineers stayed on a 10-month schedule for the Green Run “despite significant adversity this year,” Boeing SLS director John Shannon told reporters this week, citing five tropical storms and one hurricane that hit Stennis, as well as a three-month shutdown after some engineers tested positive for the coronavirus in March.


- Advertisement -spot_img

More articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article