NASA gears up for final 'green test' of its SLS megarocket the Artemis moon missions

The upcoming Green Run hot fire test will be a key milestone event for NASA’s Artemis missions.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is all set to proceed with the next stage of testing the megarocket that will power the next mission to the moon. In an earlier statement, the US space agency had said the final test in the Green Run series of the megarocket will be targetting  17 January 2021. The hot fire, according to NASA, is the final part of the Green Run test – an eight-part assessment campaign that gradually develops the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS is the deep space rocket that will power the agency's next-gen human Moon missions.

NASA carried out the seventh test of the SLS on 20 December 2020, providing the space agency with a range of important data about the structural and environmental parameters the rocket needs to operate in. It also helped check the stage's cryogenic storage capabilities, demonstrated software with the stage's flight computers and avionics, and conducted functional checks. However, the end of the test was automatically stopped a few minutes early due to timing on a valve closure. It was found that the valve’s predicted closure was off by a fraction of a second.

NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Image: NASA

NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Image: NASA

Julie Bassler, SLS stages manager at NASA, added that other parts of the testing went according to plan, including the green run software, the core stage and the stage controller.

"Data from all the tests to date has given us the confidence to proceed with the hot fire," Bassler had added.

The hot fire test will test all four SLS core stage RS 25 engines, firing them up for eight minutes on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. If all goes well, NASA and Boeing plan to refurbish the core stage and ship it by barge to the Kennedy Space Center for the final assembly and launch.

Barry Robinson, project manager for SLS core stage Green Run testing at Stennis revealed that the upcoming Green Run hot fire test will be a key milestone event for NASA’s Artemis missions, planned for 2024.

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