Failure of an important test of NASA’s moon rocket due to engine malfunction might be the end of their dream for its launch in 2021

NASA’s major moon rocket experienced a malfunction in its engine during a very important test on Saturday, and the blunder could come as a huge disappointment to the organization’s immense work to send space explorers back to the moon.

The rocket, called Space Launch System (SLS), is intended standat the final height of 365 feet (111 meters) and ship space travelers to the moon at some point in the mid-to late- 2020s. The framework is a fundamental bit of a bigger program called Artemis, a generally $30 billion exertion to return boots on the lunar surface unexpectedly since 1972. NASA has spent about $18 billion building up the rocket.

The SLS core stage – the framework’s biggest part and its primary spine – was amassed and intensely tied down at Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on Saturday for a basic “hot fire” test. For the test, the rocket was prepared to at the same time fire its four highly strong and powerful RS-25 motors as it would be required for its dispatch to the space.

Source: NASA

The center stage is the world’s biggest and most impressive rocket stage, as per NASA. It has five mains areas, including a 537,000-gallon (2 million-liter) tank for hydrogen in liquid form, a 196,000-gallon (742,000-liter) tank for liquid oxygen, four RS-25 motors, flight PCs, and different subsystems. Boeing is the lead contract based worker for the stage, and Aerojet Rocketdyne has taken responsibility for its RS-25 motors, which used to propel the fleet of space shuttles of NASA.

The fuel tanks were loaded up with 733,000 gallons of cryogenically chilled propellant on Saturday, and the engines thundered to life at about 5:27 p.m. EST.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters in a press conference after the test. “It was like an earthquake. It was a magnificent moment. And it just brought joy that after all this time, now we’ve got a rocket. The only rocket on the face of the planet capable of taking humans to the moon was firing all four RS-25 engines at the same time.”

Take a look at the video:

The engines were supposed to fire ceaselessly for eight minutes. however, just only after one minute during the test, the controller of the engine sent an order to the core stage controller to shut their operations.

A flash next to the thermal-protection blanket covering engine four had been seen by the controllers. Responding to that, that engine registered an MCF, or “major component failure.” It’s not yet clear what happened. At the time they made the call that they still have four good engines up and running at 109% as commented in the press conference by John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Bridenstine told that the amount of progress that they had made there that day was remarkable. And no, that was not a failure. That was a test. And they tested that day in a way that was meaningful, where they were going to learn and they were going to make adjustments and they were going to fly to the moon.

In the next few days ,The SLS team will be utilizing the time in going though and analyzing the data from the test, examining the core stage and the engines to figure out the incident that happened and how to move ahead.

Saturday’s hot fire was supposed to be NASA’s ‘Green Run’, the eighth and final step in a program designed to examine each section of the core stage ahead of SLS’s first launch, called Artemis 1 – an unmanned test flight scheduled for November 2021.

Source: NASA

Though, after the failure it appears highly unlikely for the launch to happen in its scheduled time. Had the hot fire went well, NASA was planning to transport the rocket to Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida in February, where the workers would have arranged all the segments of the two boosters required for sending Artemis 1 around the moon.

It’s not clear regarding the time it will take NASA to correct the engine error and to ship the core stage to Florida now.

Bridenstine said that it depended what the anomaly was and how challenging it was going to be to fix it. And they’ve got a lot to learn to figure that out. It very well could be that it was something that was easily fixable and they could feel confident going down to the Cape and staying on schedule. It was also true that they could find a challenge that was going to take more time.

Source: NASA

They may have to redo the hot fire test. The SLS team wanted to reach at least 250 seconds of the engines firing together to have high confidence in the vehicle. However test lasted for a mere little above 60 seconds.

Stipulated time needed to prepare the Stennis Space Center facilities for another test is at least four or five days. If NASA needs to replace the current engines for new ones, workers can do it on-site at the Stennis Space Center. Honeycutt estimated the time needed would be about seven to 10 days to do that.

Bridenstine said that that is why they tested. Before they put American astronauts on American rockets, that was when they need it to be perfect.

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