About a minute after ignition, the engines suddenly stopped.
In three years, the time has come: NASA wants to deliver the next man and the first woman to the moon. American astronauts will take flight aboard the Orion spacecraft. In addition, NASA is working on a brand new launch system: the Space launch system (SLS). This new monster rocket was tested last weekend. But it did not go entirely as planned …
During the test, all four main engines were started simultaneously for the first time. Then they should have run for a little over eight minutes. That’s about the time it takes for the rocket to be sent into space after launch. The team counted down and managed to ignite the engines. But a minute later, all four engines suddenly stopped.
The team analyzed the data and found that an unforeseen malfunction had thrown a wrench into the works. Despite this “failed” test, NASA is positive. “The fact that we fired all four engines simultaneously for the first time is a big milestone for the team,” said John Honeycutt on behalf of NASA. “We will now analyze the data in more detail. And what we learned from the test will help us set the right course. “
Although the finishing touches still need to be made, important data was nevertheless collected during the test. “The test was an essential step forward in ensuring that the SLS missile is ready for the Artemis mission and to transport the crew on future missions,” said NASA Chief Jim Bridenstine. “Although the engines weren’t running all the time, the team managed to count down and fire the engines. As a result, they have collected valuable data to move forward. “
Learn more about SLS
The Space Launch System (SLS) is, as mentioned, NASA’s newest launch system and also the largest launcher ever developed. The monster rocket has the potential to send astronauts further into space than ever before and enables manned missions to the Moon, as well as asteroids and Mars. Astronauts are expected to be launched aboard the Orion spacecraft using SLS during the Artemis mission. Orion, the SLS and the future lunar gateway will then form the backbone of NASA for further space exploration.
In the meantime, the team has already carried out several tests. The first took place in January 2020, followed by seven more. In March, the team was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. Work then resumed in May. Each test builds on the previous one, with increasing complexity to properly assess advanced systems. The current ignition of the four main engines was the last test in the series that was still on the program.
Despite the fact that the test did not go entirely as planned, the team is not happy about it. They now plan to subject all four main engines to a thorough inspection before determining next steps. “We will learn from the failure that occurred, make the necessary corrections and move on,” concludes NASA’s Rick Gilbrech.
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