NASA’s deep space rocket briefly ignited its four engines for the first time.
The test was a key step toward the first unmanned launch later this year as part of NASA’s Artemis program, the Trump administration’s mission to bring American astronauts back to the moon by 2024.
The rocket, made by Boeing, came to life in the Mississippi test site in just a minute and 15 seconds.
The engines generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust and consumed 700,000 gallons of motor fuel while on NASA’s largest test stand, 35 stories high.
About the four minutes it took for its development to start for the first time in November was on its way.
NASA said: “All four RS-25 engines ignited successfully, but the test was stopped prematurely after about a minute.
“At this point, the test was fully automated.
“During the shooting, the firmware worked properly and triggered a safe engine shutdown.
“During the test, the fuel tanks were under pressure and this data will be valuable as the team plans its way forward.
“In the coming days, engineers will continue to analyze the data and inspect the core and four RS-25 engines to determine further steps.”
Despite the test being suspended, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was still positive, saying: “Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the SLS rocket’s central stage was ready for the Artemis I mission and for the crew on future missions.
“Although the engines didn’t burn all the time, the team successfully did the countdown, started the engines and gained valuable data to help us move forward.”
“We’ve got a lot of data that we’ll be able to sort,” he added, talking about whether the launch in November is still possible.
If that’s not possible, the debut could be pushed into 2022.