NASA was preparing for a critical test of its problematic rocket with the Space Launch System (SLS) on Thursday as the organization prepares to return to the Moon.
The second “hot fire” test will see all four RS-25 rocket engines ignite simultaneously and reach 1.6 million pounds (7.1 million newtons).
The two-hour test window started at 3pm Eastern time (1900 GMT). At around 4:00 pm, NASA said the document was expected within 45 minutes.
It will be the second such test involving a 212-meter (65-meter-high) stage at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, after the first termination in January.
NASA released a statement following the test that said “no major repairs” were needed after the engines were cut off for just one minute in an eight-minute run, but did not say what was wrong.
Thursday’s test should also last eight minutes, and is intended to provide information that will help reduce the risk of a monthly trip.
The rocket tanks were filled with 700,000 liters (2.6 million liters) of cryogenic propellant, which would burn engines, which were re-deployed to Space Shuttle equipment, including the last one in 2011.
If all goes well, it will take about a month to refurbish the main stage, where it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
There, it will be assembled with other SLS rocket components and the Orion crew capsule, which Artemis I is preparing to launch later this year – an unfinished campaign.
The SLS system has experienced delays and cost overruns, and was originally supposed to be operational in 2016.
Ars Technica reported this week that NASA is conducting an internal review of its findings.
NASA said last year in August the cost of basic construction was $ 9.1 billion and the capacity of the first-ever Earth-spacecraft needed $ 2.4 billion.
It has also been criticized as NASA’s “Marshall Space Flight Center” in Alabama, as well as its major contractors Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman.
While SLS is much more powerful than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket used to land satellites on the runway and transport crews to the ISS, Elon Musk’s company also operates a model rocket called Starship that will be able to in-depth explore space.
The last three Starship test planes ended in a shocking explosion, but analysts believe that catastrophic events could accelerate the spacecraft’s development, ultimately making it an alternative to SLS.