NASA has remained hard at work despite the coronavirus pandemic. Tests related to the upcoming megarocket have been delayed due to concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but they have been resumed recently, with a major focus on the core stage.
The Space Launch System has been classified as the most powerful rocket system to date, and it should be ready for use by 2021. Boeing received the contract for the manufacturing of the rocket and has started to test the core stage for the SLS at the Stennis Space Center, which is located in Mississippi.
For now Boeing will run a series of green-run tests. If everything goes according to plan, a hot-fire test will take place in October. The schedule has been adjusted due to delays related to coronavirus, as only one test was completed before the pandemic arrived.
One of the tests aims to ensure that the team will still be able to control the rocket even if the critical communications system would be affected. This is a crucial step before the hot-fire test will take place, as it will prove that redundant systems can disable the device if needed.
Testing the first SLS
Two other tests will assess the valves of the core stage and other components to ensure that the SLS will be prepared for more tests. During these tests, the rocket stage will be filled with fuel to verify its integrity before the hot-fire test will take place.
While the protocol seems to be quite complicated, it will be streamlined in the case of future SLS stages. After the hot-fire test the equipment will be transported to the Kennedy Space Center were more tests will be conducted.
The SLS Core will power an unscrewed flight towards the Moon next year, a part of the first missions included in the ambitious Artemis Program.