WASHINGTON — As NASA studies ways to accelerate development of the Space Launch System, an independent safety panel called on the agency to retain a major upcoming test of the vehicle.
NASA had been contemplating eliminating the so-called “green run” of the SLS core stage as a way to cut several months of schedule. In that test, the completed core stage would be brought to the Stennis Space Center and placed on a test stand, where its four RS-25 engines would be fired for eight minutes, simulating the actual flight of the vehicle.
In testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee in March, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency was studying doing away with the green run test. Instead, NASA would ship the completed core stage directly to the Kennedy Space Center, where its engines would be briefly fired on the pad at Launch Complex 39B.
Bridenstine suggested in his testimony that alternative testing of the RS-25 engines could eliminate the need for the green run. “Could we test each engine individually at very high off-nominal kinds of conditions to get certainty, or at least eliminate as much risk, or almost as much risk, as we would if we ran ...