In a recent press release, NASA announced that the space agency has tested four engines of its "mega-rocket," which is supposed to deliver astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis program. The tests lasted significantly less than planned.
The tests took place on January 16 at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The plan was for the four engines to run for 485 seconds (slightly more than 8 minutes) – the same amount of time the engines would have to run during a real start.
The team successfully completed the countdown and started the engines, but turned them off after 60 seconds. Now NASA experts are finding out what exactly led to the early shutdown.
At the same time, NASA called the tests successful. The team said they received valuable data to move forward.
The four test engines are to be powered by the Space Launch System super-heavy launch vehicle. It is planned to be used to launch the Orion spacecraft. The first launch of SLS and Orion without astronauts is expected no earlier than November this year, unless NASA changes the date.
After that, the agency plans to re-launch SLS and Orion in 2023, but with astronauts. Then they must be delivered to the Moon.
The agency's ultimate goal is to land the first woman and the next men on the surface of the Earth's satellite by 2024. The aim of the program is to organize scientific research and find economic benefits from the use of the Moon.