NASA recently conducted a hot fire test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will eventually be used to propel Artemis I to the moon. Unfortunately, the test didn’t quite go according to plan, as NASA was forced to end the hot fire test exactly 67 seconds into the scheduled eight-minute test.
If the test was completed successfully, it would have been the final hurdle for the rocket before NASA shipped it to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final launch preparations. During the failed test, the four rocket engines each lit up at 120-millisecond intervals, as intended by NASA. Together, they managed to produce over seven-million kilograms [1.6 million pounds] of thrust, making it the most powerful rocket tested at Stennis since the Saturn 5 rocket in 1960.
Around 67 seconds into the test, the four engines were cut off by command from the rocket’s onboard computer system after it detected an unspecified fault in one of the engines. NASA engineers are currently tracing the cause of the fault, although little information has been shared on what could have caused the issue.
While this may not seem like the biggest issue at first, the failure does put NASA’s plan of conducting the first test flight of the SLS rocket in jeopardy, which was scheduled to take place at the end of 2021.
“Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team successfully worked through the countdown, ignited the engines, and gained valuable data to inform our path forward,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The organisation will now analyse the data gathered from the unsuccessful hot fire test to determine whether or not SLS will still launch this year.
Take a look at the SLS hot fire test Livestream below:
Picture: NASA Television