One of the next major tests for the SLS rocket core stage will happen on January 16, which is today if you’re not close to a calendar. The image above shows the core stage rocket sitting on the test stand at the NASA Stennis Space Center as it’s being fueled with liquid hydrogen. The flame burning in the left of the image is liquid hydrogen being safely vented and burned as it warms and boils off during a rehearsal countdown for the hot fire test conducted on December 20.
NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 5 PM EST on Saturday, January 16. Live coverage via the NASA website or NASA television will begin at 4:20 PM. NASA will conduct the post-test briefing approximately two hours after the test concludes. The hot fire test is the eighth and final test in the Green Run series meant to ensure the SLS rocket’s core stage is ready to send Artemis missions to the moon.
The core stage of the rocket includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank along with the quartet of RS-25 engines, computers, electronics, and avionics that control the rocket. During the test, all core stage systems will be powered up, and the rocket is loaded with more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic propellant into its tanks.
All four engines will fire at the same time simulating the first stage’s operation during launch. A total of 1.6 million pounds of thrust will be produced. It’s hard to imagine the stress placed on the test rack by the rocket with so much thrust trying to rip the rocket away.
Artemis 1 will be the first mission and will test both the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed missions to the moon. NASA intends to launch its next crewed mission to the moon in 2024.