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Nasa completes Artemis moon rocket hot-fire test

Nasa appears to have successfully carried out a test of the Boeing-designed Space Launch System, intended to put the first woman and the next man on the moon.

This is the second attempt by Nasa of a hot-fire test of the system after the first test on 16 January shut down early.

On this run through Nasa was hoping to get four minutes of data and the engines ran for more than eight minutes. There is a huge volume of data to examine, but a round of applause from the team appears to indicate success.

The hot-fire test at the Stennis Space Centre near the city of Bay St Louis, Mississippi saw engineers load more than 700,000 gallons of super-cold liquid propellant into the tanks, and fire the rocket’s four RS-25 engines.

In doing this, Nasa was able to simulate a launch, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust, that would take Artemis 1 on a round-the-moon uncrewed mission at the end of 2021.

SLS is a heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of taking the Orion spacecraft and other cargo beyond a low Earth orbit. If the project is successful it is also likely to be used to take the first people to Mars.

Developed by Boeing, the project is believed to be approximately two years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Delays in tests such as this make scheduling the uncrewed mission around the moon difficult as after passing inspection, components will then need to be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch.

As yet there is no confirmed timetable for putting people back on the lunar surface, but the initial plan, announced during the Trump administration, proposed that Artemis 3 would launch in 2024.

Before the return to the moon, Artemis 2 will be a crewed mission that will perform a lunar flyby in August 2023.

The Biden administration endorsed the Artemis program in February requesting a 12 per cent funding increase to cover the project as part of its fiscal year 2021 budget.

While Nasa is leading the program, it is working with US commercial spaceflight companies, and international partners including the European Space Agency, and the national space agencies of Japan, Canada, Italy, Australia, the UK, the UAE, Ukraine, and Brazil.

Ambitiously, Artemis missions are planned every year until the end of the decade following the third mission. Each will be for approximately 30 days, rising to 60 once a three-module base camp is established allowing for longer durations — projected to be around 2028.

Between July 1969 and December 1972, a total of 12 men landed on the moon on successive Apollo missions.

The name Artemis was chosen for the program to return to the moon, and land the first woman there, as in classical Greek mythology she was the twin sister of Apollo.

Source: Nasa completes Artemis moon rocket hot-fire test

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