Not many would have heard of the NASA Authorization Act, 2010. The passing of this act led to the work of the Space Launch System (SLS), a launch vehicle to carry cargo and crew to the Moon and other space explorations. The SLS, for all its heavy launch technology, has suffered a series of delays and setbacks, till now.
After years of complications and multiple delays, the engineering team at NASA Stennis Space Center completed a Green Run of the SLS’s Core Stage. A Green Run refers to a full range of tests and functional checks designed to validate the flight hardware of a system. This testing involves the rocket’s critical systems, prepping it for the inaugural launch in November 2021. Going into the details, the Green Run on the NASA SLS began back in January, where engineers started the activation and testing of the core stage components.
This will culminate with a test firing of the core stage’s RS-25 engines, which will replicate the SLS’s first launch. As expected, the NASA SLS will play a crucial role in the Artemis Mission and future space explorations. “Green Run is the step-by-step testing and analysis of the new SLS rocket core stage that will send astronauts to the Moon,” said Richard Sheppard, the SLS Stages Green Run Test Lead from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in a press release.
“This testing will reduce risks for, not only the first flight, but also for the Artemis mission that will land astronauts on the Moon in 2024,” he added. The engineers at Stennis have completed the first of eight tests in the Green Run series, which consists of applying external forces to the core stage to simulate launch conditions and measure how the vehicle handles the intense vibrations. The eight tests include Modal Test, Avionics, Fail-Safes, Propulsion, Thrust Vector Controls, Countdown, “Wet” Dress Rehearsal, and lastly, Hot Fire. Once done, the RS-25 engines will fire the SLS will launch in a debut of the Artemis I mission, the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.