Nasa shares new details of what happened during ground test

The hydraulic system associated with the core stage’s power unit for Engine 2 exceeded the pre-set test limits

In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 photo made available by NASA, the core stage for the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System rocket undergoes a hot fire test at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. All four core-stage engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, NASA blamed the automatic shutdown on the strict test limits. (Robert Markowitz/NASA via AP)
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Nasa has shared more details of what went on during its ground test on January 16.

The Space Launch System rocket's four engines shut down after a little more than one minute, well below the planned eight minutes for the test that is designed to simulate conditions during a lift-off.

This so-called hot fire took place at Nasa’s Stennis Space Centre near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The deep space exploration rocket was built by Boeing.

"Initial data analysis determined the shutdown was triggered by test parameters that were intentionally conservative to ensure the safety of the core stage during the test," Nasa said. "Preliminary inspections indicate the rocket's hardware is in good condition, and all the core stage systems including the engines performed as expected."

Nasa conducted the test for the core stage of the rocket.

"Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission and to carry crew on future missions,” said Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who attended the test. “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.”

In addition to analysing the data from the test, teams also will inspect the core stage and its four RS-25 engines before determining the next steps, the statement said.

Under the Artemis programme, Nasa is working to land the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024. The Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts to space, along with the human landing system and the Gateway in orbit around the moon, are Nasa’s backbone for deep space exploration.