NASA’s newly redesigned RS-25 engine for future flights of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket underwent its first hot fire test of the year on Feb. 8 at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
The series of tests support the production of the new RS-25 engine from Aerojet Rocketdyne, the prime contractor for the SLS engine. The new engine will help power future Artemis missions, expected to begin with the Artemis V mission.
NASA conducts the RS-25 Hot Fire Test on Feb. 8, 2023, at the Fred Hess Test Stand at Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. Credit: NASA/Stennis
The single-engine hot fire on the Fred Hess Test Stand follows the 2022 confidence test, which confirmed that all preparations are ready for certification.
In the latest test, engineers performed a full-thrust ignition of the RS-25 engine for about eight and a half minutes (500 seconds), the same amount of time the engine must run to help get SLS into space. The RS-25 engine also ran at 111 percent power for most of the test, the same level needed to help the SLS lift off. The test featured a host of new components, most of which were installed for the December hot fire test. One additional component – a new nozzle – was installed prior to the most recent hot-fire test.
A remote camera provides a close-up view of the RS-25 Hot Fire on Feb. 8, 2023, at the Fred Hess Test Stand at Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. Credit: NASA/Stennis
Four RS-25 engines fire simultaneously, producing 1.6 million pounds of thrust at launch and 2 million pounds of thrust during ascent to power each SLS flight. NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne modified the remaining 16 engines in the Shuttle program that proved to be available at Stennis for Artemis missions I through IV.
Each RS-25 engine that will help fly the SLS will be tested at NASA Stennis. Testing of the RS-25 is being conducted by a joint team of NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services, the prime contractor for the Stennis facility and operations.
With the Artemis mission, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone to Mars.