NASA on Thursday successfully tested the engines of its new giant SLS rocket, which will one day take astronauts to the moon, a relief for the US Space Agency after a previous test cut in January.
The rocket’s four main stage RS-25 engines, the size of each car, were ignited for only eight minutes, aiming to simulate a launch phase.
He threw a huge cloud of smoke, in a deafening noise, above the testing center in Stannis, Mississippi.
For this test called “Hot Fire”, which took place at around 8:40 GMT, the tank was filled with approximately 2.6 million liters of fuel.
“Passed the test,” NASA tweeted on the rocket’s official account, shortly after the applause rang in the control room.
In a similar test in late January, the engine shut down much earlier than expected, after ignition for just over a minute.
During a live broadcast of the US Space Agency on the Internet, NASA in charge of these tests “forced a Bill Attraction, which is very good, which is very good”, commented on Bill Wrobel on Thursday. The data will now need to be analyzed in detail.
The SLS (Space Launch System) heavy rocket is already years ahead of schedule. It is a powerful launcher intended to carry the Orion spacecraft as the moon of the American program Artemis.
The test was the last in a series of eight to verify that the rocket’s main stage is ready to launch the Artemis mission. The stage is about 65 meters high, made up of engines, tanks, as well as computers that form the “brain” of the rocket.
It will now be moved to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A first flight, Artemis 1, which was scheduled according to this year’s initial schedule, would be with an Orion capsule at its top, with no astronauts.
Artemis 2 in 2023 will send astronauts around the moon, but they will not land.
Finally Artemis 3 will send two astronauts to lunar soil, including the first woman in 2024.
In its configuration for Artemis 1, the SLS rocket would be larger than the Statue of Liberty and more powerful than the famous Saturn V that took American astronauts to the moon in the last century.
Space company SpaceX is also developing a heavy launcher, the Starship, to reach the moon and even Mars. The final tests of this rocket ended in impressive explosions. A new test flight of a starship prototype may take place in the coming days.