The SLS rocket is the massive booster that is expected to push the Artemis missions into orbit and towards the moon at some point in the future. Ahead of that launch, the rocket has to complete its testing regime, and NASA and Boeing have announced they will attempt the second hot fire test of the SLS rocket on February 25. The test is critical and is the last step in an eight-part green run test that has spanned an entire year to ensure the rocket functions as intended.
The first use of the SLS rocket is expected to be the Artemis 1 mission that will send an uncrewed spacecraft around the moon. NASA and Boeing previously attempted the hot fire test, but the engines shut off unexpectedly after firing for about 67 seconds. To complete the test, the massive rocket has to fire for the complete duration required to put the spacecraft in orbit, about eight minutes.
SLS program manager John Honeycutt says that the core-stage green run is the most comprehensive test NASA has undertaken to be sure the rocket can launch safely. During a virtual news conference held yesterday, Honeycutt said the test was a “generational opportunity” to learn as much as we can about the rocket and its test configuration before it moves to flight status.
NASA plans on attempting the hot fire test on the morning of February 25. It will be conducted at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NASA personnel will decide whether to fuel the rocket at 7 AM EST, with the hot fire test scheduled for 5 PM EST. The test schedule can be moved about an hour in either direction.
During the news conference, NASA personnel stressed that there is a chance the engines won’t burn for the full eight-minute test. The team says they only need a little over four minutes of engine runtime to gather the data required to meet the verification program’s remaining objectives.