The “hot fire” test at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was supposed to last a little over eight minutes – the time that the engines would burn in flight – but they stopped just over a minute after the burn.

NASA conducted a firing test of the engines of its giant lunar space launch system (SLS) rocket on January 16, but they stopped earlier than expected, the space agency said.

The “hot fire” test at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was supposed to last a little over eight minutes – the time that the engines would burn in flight – but they stopped just over a minute after the burn.

“The teams are evaluating the data to determine what caused the premature shutdown and will determine the way forward,” NASA said in a statement.

The SLS rocket is intended to launch the Artemis missions that will bring American astronauts back to the moon.

Although it was cut short, NASA said the test of the RS-25 engines provided valuable information for the planned missions.

“Saturday’s test was an important step forward in ensuring that the center stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission, and in transporting the crew on future missions,” the administrator said. from NASA Jim Bridenstine.

“While the engines didn’t fire for the entire time, the team did a good countdown, got the engines on and got some valuable data to guide us.”

It is not yet clear what caused the premature shutdown, but SLS program manager John Honeycutt told reporters they saw a flash in a heat shield blanket on one of the engines and were analyzing the data.

“In my opinion, the team accomplished a lot today, we learned a lot about the vehicle,” said Mr. Honeycutt.

NASA’s Artemis I mission to test the SLS and an unmanned Orion spacecraft is expected to take place before the end of 2021.

The next Artemis II mission in 2023 will take astronauts around the Moon but will not land. Artemis III will send astronauts, including the first woman, to the Moon in 2024.

In its configuration for Artemis I, the SLS will be 98m taller than the Statue of Liberty, and is more powerful than the Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo missions that sent the first astronauts to the moon.

NASA’s ultimate goal is to establish an Artemis base camp on the moon before the end of the decade, an ambitious plan that would require tens of billions of dollars in funding and the green light from President-elect Joe Biden and the Congress.

A Manned Return to the Moon is the first part of the Artemis program to set up a long-term colony and test technologies for a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.

You hit your free item limit this month.

Membership benefits include

Today’s paper

Find a mobile version of daily newspaper articles in an easy-to-read list.

Unlimited access

Enjoy reading as many articles as you want without any limitations.

Personalized recommendations

A shortlist of items that match your interests and tastes.

Faster pages

Switch easily from article to article, as our pages load instantly.

Dashboard

A one-stop-shop to see the latest updates and manage your preferences.

Report

We keep you informed of the most recent and important developments, three times a day.

Support quality journalism.

* Our digital subscription plans currently do not include e-paper, crossword puzzles, and printing.

.