Before NASA’s deep space rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon, its core stage design will be tested in a series of tests called Green Run. The core stage design will be used for all configurations of the SLS rocket, and the series of eight tests will verify the stage is ready for the first and future Artemis lunar missions. During the core stage Green Run test series, the rocket’s massive, 212-foot-tall core stage — the same flight hardware that will send Artemis 1 to the Moon — will operate together for the first time. Just as during an actual launch, propellant will flow through the rocket’s two propellant tanks, the avionics and flight computers will operate all the systems and all four RS-25 engines will fire simultaneously. While operating at sea level in the test stand, the four RS-25 engines will produce just over 1.6 million pounds of thrust. As the core stage gains altitude during launch and flight of Artemis I, the engines will then produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust. Engineers installed the stage in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in January 2020. The first test of the eight-part Green Run test series, called the modal test, was completed in February.
NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS and Orion, along with the Gateway in orbit around Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.
Image Credit: NASA/Kevin O’Brien