NASA plans to conduct the first four-engine hot-fire test of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Saturday, January 16. (Check out NASA's movie-like trailer for this weekend's test above.)
The success will take the space agency a giant step toward its crew-free Artemis I mission to the moon in just 11 months before embarking on a scheduled crew mission with the first woman and next man on the board before the end of the decade Lunar surface are brought.
Saturday's test at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, will be the last of the so-called Green Run, a series of eight tests that put a rocket and all associated hardware through its paces will. Previous Green Run tests assessed the missile's avionics, propulsion systems, and hydraulic systems.
According to NASA, the SLS is capable of generating a maximum of 8.8 million pounds of thrust and "exerting more force than any rocket ever". This means we can expect spectacular booster performance this weekend as all four RS-25 engines of the SLS rocket ignite together for eight minutes in a ground-based test designed to simulate the launch performance of the core stage.
Assuming the test on Saturday goes according to plan, the core stage of the SLS rocket will be renovated and transported by barge to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There it will be assembled with the other parts of the rocket, including the Orion spacecraft, in preparation for the highly anticipated Artemis I mission.
"The next few days will be crucial in preparing the Artemis I rocket stage, the B-2 test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center and the test team for the finals of the Green Run test series," said Barry Robinson, project manager for SLS core phase Green Run -Test at Stennis. "The upcoming Green Run hot fire test is the culmination of a lot of hard work by this team as we near a major milestone for NASA's Artemis missions."
It is currently not clear whether NASA wants to broadcast the hot fire test live. We'll definitely update this article as it posts such details. Otherwise, the agency will almost certainly post a video of the test soon after the test.