“We did get an MCF on engine four,” a control room member said less than a minute into the test fire, using an initialism that stands for “major component malfunction….” The engines fired for 12 more seconds after the exchange before an automatic shutdown was called. The test was meant to last eight minutes — the full duration needed for the booster during its Artemis program liftoff — but only ran less than two minutes.
Prime contractor Boeing previously said the test would need to run at least 250 seconds, or more than four minutes, for teams to gather enough data to move forward with transport to Kennedy Space Center and launch sometime before the end of the year. An exact plan moving forward, which could mean a second test and delay before transport to Florida, had not yet been released by Saturday evening.
Or, as the Guardian reports, “It was unclear whether Boeing and Nasa would have to repeat the test, a prospect that could push the debut launch into 2022.”
In a press conference tonight, a NASA official specifically addressed the question of whether or not a launch this year was still feasible. “I think it’s still too early to tell. I think as we figure out what went wrong, we’re going to know what the future holds. And right now we just don’t know…
“Not everything went according to script today, but we got a lot of great data, a lot of great information. I have absolutely total confidence in the team to figure out what the anomaly was, figure out how to fix it, and then get after it again… Depending on what we learn, we might not have to do it again.”
They added that there was no sign of engine damage, and emphasized to reporters another way to view the significance of this afternoon’s event. “A rocket capable of taking humans to the moon, was firing, all four engines at the same time.” And they also stressed that this afternoon’s result was not a failure — but a test. “When you test, you learn things…”
“We’re going to make adjustments, and we’re going to fly to the moon. That’s what the Artemis program is all about, that’s what NASA is all about, and that’s what America is all about. We didn’t get everything we wanted, and yeah, we’re going to have to make adjustments. But this was a test, and this is why we test.
“If you’re expecting perfection on a first test, then you’ve never tested before.”
“The date is set,” NASA had tweeted Friday, thanking its partners Boeing Space and Aerojet Rocketdyne for Saturday’s “hot fire” test of the SLS’s core stage.
“One of NASA’s main goals for 2021 is to launch Artemis I, an uncrewed moon mission meant to show the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket can safely send humans to our lunar neighbor,” reported CNET. “But first, NASA plans to make some noise with a fiery SLS test on Saturday.”
Below is the original report that schwit1 had shared from Space.com:
It’s a critical test for NASA and the final step in the agency’s “Green Run” series of tests to ensure the SLS rocket is ready for its first launch… In the upcoming hot-fire engine test, engineers will load the Boeing-built SLS core booster with over 700,000 gallons of cryogenic (that’s really cold) propellant into the rocket’s fuel tanks and light all four of its RS-25 engines at once. The engines will fire for 485 seconds (a little over 8 minutes) and generate a whopping 1.6 million pounds of thrust throughout the test…
Following the success of this hot fire test and subsequent uncrewed missions to the moon, “the next key step in returning astronauts to the moon and eventually going on to Mars,” Jeff Zotti, the RS-25 program director at Aerojet Rocketdyne said during the news conference. NASA’s SLS program manager John Honeycutt agreed.
“This powerful rocket is going to put us in a position to be ready to support the agency in the country’s deep space mission to the moon and beyond,” he said.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.