NASA announced this week that it is targeting Thursday, March 18, for the second hot fire test for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage. The test will be conducted at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NASA has set the new date after performing tests that demonstrated recently repaired liquid oxygen pre-valve was working correctly.
While conducting repairs on the faulty valve, the SLS team has continued to prepare the core stage and its four RS-25 engines and the B-2 test stand for the second hot fire test. NASA said its team would power up the core stage again and do a final check of all systems this week.
On March 16, the core stage will be powered up, starting the clock for the second hot fire test. The test is the last before the Artemis I core stage can be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center for assembly and integration with the rest of the major elements of the rocket and the Orion spacecraft. The Exploration Ground Systems team and Kennedy already have the parts for the solid rocket booster in the vehicle assembly building stacked and ready for fitting.
They are currently finishing up the booster assembly, and when the core stage arrives, it will be lifted and placed between the two boosters and attached at the core stage engine and intertank sections. Teams are working on other parts of the rocket and the spacecraft, gearing up for final assembly and integration.
SLS is the most powerful rocket in the world and was designed to send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft and supplies to the moon and eventually to Mars. It has a massive propellant tank that holds over 700,000 gallons of the super-cold propellant to push the rocket into orbit during its eight-minute flight.