Representatives of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne gathered for a media briefing Tuesday afternoon (12 January) to discuss progress towards the critical eighth and final test in the year-long “Green Run” campaign to prepare the Boeing-built Core Stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) for its maiden voyage as early as November. The Hot Fire Test—targeted as a 485-second full-mission-duration “burn” of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s four RS-25 engines—is targeted for Saturday, 16 January.
After enduring a stop-start rhythm of success and frustration throughout 2020—tempered not only by the worldwide march of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but also by Mother Nature and technical troubles with the hardware—NASA finally announced Monday that it is targeting about 5:00 p.m. EST Saturday, 16 January for the long-awaited “Hot Fire Test”. This will see the Core Stage’s four shuttle-era RS-25 engines roar to life with a thrust in excess of 1.6 million pounds (750,000 kg). It was noted that although a full mission-length duration of 485 seconds is desirable, it is possible that requisite test data may be gathered from a slightly shorter burn-time.
Throughout the challenging year of 2020, the Core Stage resided within the confines of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Bay St. Louis, Miss., as the eight functional and operational tests in support of the Green Run campaign got underway.