As NASA continues to eye a November 2021 launch date for the first rocket in the Artemis program, the space agency prepared to conduct a final test of a key component of the rocket.
January 16 marks the final test in what's known as the Green Run, a series of eight tests that NASA is conducting on the Core Stage for the Space Launch System (SLS), which is being built in partnership with Boeing.
Before the window for the test opened up Saturday afternoon, NASA Deputy Administrator James Morhard joined WAAY 31 for a one-on-one interview to talk about the finale of the historic test.
"This is a historic milestone for our efforts to get to deep space," Morhard said. "Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has been just so critical to making this happen today. So, we're excited to see all of it unfold in front of us."
The last part of the Green Run is the hot fire test, during which all four RS-25 engines manufactured by Aerojet Rockedyne will be fired at one time. The engines will burn up to 485 seconds, or about 8 minutes.
"But the reality is that when you look at it, the engineering data we need is going to be provided in the first 250 seconds. So, we can call it a day if we get that far," Morhard said.
During the hot fire test, the engines will be brought to 109 percent max thrust capacity or about 1.6 million pounds of thrust. Engineers will bring the engines to that level, back them off and then repeat that process a few more times during the eight minutes.
Following Saturday's test, much of the analysis will be done at MSFC.
"We'll see what we need to refurbish on the rocket. Then we'll pack it up, ship it by barge down to Kennedy Space Center and then we'll start assembling the whole package," Morhard said.
The window for the test is scheduled to open at 4 p.m. CST. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in tweet that they are running up to an hour ahead of schedule and will begin its live coverage on NASA TV starting at 2:20 p.m. CST. You can watch the live stream in the video below or by clicking here.