NASA Will Have 8 Minute Hold Down Test in 2020

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced July 25 the agency will conduct a “Green Run” core stage test for the Space Launch System rocket ahead of the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission.

Perhaps in November, 2019, NASA and ULA could start assembling the Space Launch System (SLS) on the pad for a roughly 5-month preparation phase for the test. This means they should have the test in the second quarter of 2020.

This clearly means that the actual first mission launch around the moon cannot take place until 2021. Months will be needed to analyze the test results. Months will be needed to clean up and prepare for the real launch.

The first eight minutes of every Artemis mission with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will begin with core stage and solid rocket boosters producing 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch the agency’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon. NASA will test the rocket’s 212-foot tall core stage- the tallest rocket stage the agency has ever built- with a “Green Run” test on Earth before launch day to help ensure mission success and pave the way for future Artemis missions carrying crew to the Moon. Missions at the Moon will be a stepping stone to prepare for human exploration of Mars.

During the Green Run testing, engineers will install the core stage that will send Orion to the Moon in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for a series of tests that will build like a crescendo over several months. The term “green” refers to the new hardware that will work together to power the stage, and “run” refers to operating all the components together simultaneously for the first time. Many aspects will be carried out for the first time, such as fueling and pressurizing the stage, and the test series culminates with firing up all four RS-25 engines to demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system, and software can all perform together just as they will on launch day.

“The SLS core stage is an engineering feat that includes not only the largest rocket propellant tanks ever built but also sophisticated avionics and main propulsion systems,” said Lisa Bates, SLS deputy stages manager. “While the rocket is designed to evolve over time for different mission objectives, the core stage design will remain basically the same. The Green Run acceptance test gives NASA the confidence needed to know the new core stage will perform again and again as it is intended.”

The SLS core stage includes state-of-the-art avionics, miles of cables and propulsion systems and two huge liquid propellant tanks that collectively hold 733,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to power the four RS-25 engines. Together, they will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help send Artemis 1 beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon.

The test program for the core stage at Stennis will begin with installing the stage into the test stand. Then, engineers will turn the components on one by one through a series of initial tests and functional checks designed to identify any issues. Those tests and checks will culminate in an eight-minute-long test fire, mimicking the full duration of the stage’s first flight with ignition, ascent and engine shutdown. The results of this test also will provide important data that will confirm how the system reacts as the fuel is depleted from the propellant tanks.

The “Green Run” test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will be conducted at the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Flight Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The historic test stand has been used to test stages for multiple programs, including the Saturn V and the space shuttle. The test stand was renovated to accommodate the SLS rocket’s core stage, which is the largest stage NASA has ever built.
Credits: NASA


14 thoughts on “NASA Will Have 8 Minute Hold Down Test in 2020”

  1. Very good chance that something which looks like a metal chit house will beat the SLS to flight. That just goes to show which one is the real worthless piece of crap.

  2. It also looks like it was welded under a tent for a tiny cost…in a 3rd world country. Not saying that it wont do what it is designed to do…just saying.

  3. You know…I give the SLS a lot of grief………………but at least it doesn’t look like a metal chit house put up during the great depression.

  4. A full duration static test is needed for every new rocket design, including the ones SpaceX builds. They typically do theirs in MacGregor, TX, where they do engine testing. In Florida, they do a short static test a couple of days before every launch. This includes everything from fueling the rocket, to lighting the engines for a few seconds, but not letting go. It makes sure all the rocket parts are working as intended.

  5. Actually SpaceX does this for every new Falcon 9 booster. Plus they do a static fire. The only difference is that NASA does it as slowly as possible at the highest cost to the taxpayers.

  6. Which came first ? The lobbying that lead to the pork, or the pork that lead to increased lobbying?

  7. SLS won’t have the largest propellant tanks ever built by the time it launches. SpaceX Superheavy will be bigger – and just welded together out in the open or under a tent for a tiny fraction of the cost.

  8. Isn’t an 8 minute hold counter productive? Musk’s hopper is already going untethered. Grow a pair NASA.

  9. Yeah it is a boondoggle, but it isn’t NASA’s, it was congress and a Representative from Alabama, Boeing also has a hand in not doing anything with the billions except probably making crashing planes. SpaceX could’ve had this done by now with those billions and probably we would’ve had a moon mining colony! NASA needs to abandon Boeing and Congress’ boondoggle to make real progress!

  10. It should be renamed the No Launch System or One Launch System or the Boondoggle System. BS is Best. NASA’s BS.

  11. The SLS is just an inefficient jobs program for some Alabamians, it has to be scrapped due to constant overruns of $2 billion a year and it is still only on paper. Not to mention it is one time use and we only have the spare parts for 6 rockets with no plans to make more. Meanwhile SpaceX has the Falcon Heavy which fits most parameters with the BFR on the way which is cheaper, reusable, and still makes jobs. NASA needs to leave the Boeing-Lockheed boondoggle and go make a contract with SpaceX to make the market competitive!

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