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Smoke & Fire! NASA Tests the World’s Most Powerful Rocket!

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage fired all four of its RS-25 engines on March 18th at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, and the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the “brains” of the rocket.

The hot fire was the final test of the Green Run series. The term “green” refers to the new hardware that will work together to power the stage, and “run” refers to operating all the components together simultaneously for the first time. For the test, the 212-foot core stage generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust, while anchored in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The hot fire test included loading 733,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen – mirroring the launch countdown procedure – and igniting the engines.

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a second hot fire test, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for the full-duration of 8 minutes during the test and generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Artemis I will be the first in series of increasingly complex missions, testing the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.

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