NASA conducts Space Launch System hot fire test

NASA has confirmed that on January 28, it conducted the first hot-fire test for the production RS-25 engines that will power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future deep-space missions. The hot fire test used RS-25 developmental engine number 0528 on the A-1 Test Stand at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

NASA's new test marks the start of a seven-test series designed to provide data to lead contractor for SLS engines Aerojet Rocketdyne on new RS-25 engines. These engines will provide a combined 1.6 million pounds of thrust at launch and 2 million pounds of thrust during ascent. RS-25 engines used for the first four SLS flights are upgraded space shuttle main engines and have completed their certification testing.

NASA is now focusing on providing data to enhance the production of new RS-25 engines and components for subsequent SLS missions. The new tests are to evaluate the performance of engine components made using cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and techniques. NASA and its engine supplier are using advanced manufacturing methods to significantly reduce the cost and time needed to build new RS-25 engines.

The hot fire test conducted on January 28 required the developmental engine to fire for full duration of about eight and half minutes or 500 seconds. That is the same amount of time the engines have to fire to put the SLS into orbit. NASA says the engine fired at 111 percent of its original space shuttle Main engine design power, which is the same level of power needed to help launch SLS.

NASA also notes that the test was the first test on the historic test stand since April 2019. The last test conducted there was for the RS-25 engines that will be used with the first four SLS missions.