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NASA’s Moon Rocket Strapped In For Critical Testing

NASA's SLS rocket at the Stennis Spaceflight Center for the "Green Run" test. Photo: NASA

NASA’s new moon-bound rocket is strapped in for a critical test before launching from Kennedy Space Center as early as the end of 2020.

The SLS’s core stage booster is made up of its fuel tanks and for main engines. It was installed in a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Flight Center in Mississippi ahead of a so-called “Green Run” test. The campaign will test the rocket’s new hardware before its maiden mission.

“Green Run refers to the fact that the components that they are testing are green, they are new — not the color green but the colloquial saying that they are new and they have not yet run together,” said space policy analyst Laura Forczyk.“The Green Run test is making sure all the components run together that’s fueling pressurizing and test firing and we want that to work on this gigantic rocket.”

The test is scheduled for this summer. If all goes well, the rocket will head to Kennedy Space Center this fall where it will join solid rocket boosters, an upper stage and space capsule called Orion before an uncrewed test mission on a trip around the moon.

“This critical test series will demonstrate the rocket’s core stage propulsion system is ready for launch on missions to deep space,” Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech said. “The countdown to this nation’s next great era of space exploration is moving ahead.”

The Green Run test will check the rocket’s avionics system, conduct engine leak tests and verify the RS-25 engines are able to “steer” the vehicle during flight.

The stand has supported rocket hardware tests for NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.

SLS will support NASA’s Artemis program, the agency’s renewed effort to land humans on the moon. The Trump administration wants the first Artemis astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. He also helps produce WMFE's public affairs show "Intersection," working with host ... Read Full Bio »