The Boeing-built cryogenic core stage for NASA’s Artemis missions to the moon and beyond successfully completed its eight-minute test burn Thursday at Stennis Space Center. Data from this test will be used to help certify the stage for flight, Boeing said in announcing the successful test.
Most of the Boeing and NASA work on this rocket, designed to carry humans to the moon and beyond, has been completed in Huntsville.
“Deep space exploration took an important step forward today,” said John Shannon, SLS vice president and program manager for Boeing. “The advancements made on the all-new SLS core stage are positive for NASA and the national supply chain. The team is using knowledge gained from Green Run to move forward on our new production system and future stages while delivering the first stage for test flight.”
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk commented: “The SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, and during today’s test the core stage of the rocket generated more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust within seven seconds. The SLS is an incredible feat of engineering and the only rocket capable of powering America’s next-generation missions that will place the first woman and the next man on the Moon. Today’s successful hot fire test of the core stage for the SLS is an important milestone in NASA’s goal to return humans to the lunar surface – and beyond.”
Reporting on the test, Boeing said: “The Boeing-built SLS core stage is fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks feeding four RS-25 engines built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, together producing 1.6 million pounds of thrust during the test and at launch. During a mission, the stage’s engines produce 2.2 million pounds of thrust. The engines burned for a full duration of 499.6 seconds, or eight minutes and 19 seconds, during the test, providing critical verification data.
Next, the core stage will be checked out; then shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. At the Florida site, it will be integrated with the Orion crew spacecraft, Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage upper stage and solid rocket boosters. Finally, it will be prepared for launch on an unmanned mission around the moon.
Launch is currently scheduled for November, but NASA is expected to re-evaluate the schedule based on Thursday’s test fire.
The Artemis program aims to take the first woman and next man to the moon while eyeing more distant prospects.
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company, a leading provider of commercial aircraft, defense and space systems and is the top U.S. exporter.