Paris, 18 January 2021. – NASA and its prime contractor Boeing suffered a “major setback in their deep-space ambitions” on Saturday when the engines of its giant Space Launch System (SLS) booster shut down after only 67 seconds in a crucial ground test, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote.
“The engines were supposed to produce power for eight minutes but shut down after about 60 seconds while fastened to a stand at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi”, the newspaper reported. “Program officials had said four minutes would be the minimum time to gain confidence in the reliability of the engines, fuel system and surrounding structures.”
NASA could not immediately determine the cause of the premature shutdown and only mentioned a “major component failure”, wires reported. “They said engineers didn’t know whether it was a hardware, software or sensor malfunction”, WSJ wrote.
Boeing is the prime contractor for NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS), one of the largest rockets ever. It was scheduled for its first uncrewed launch later this year, “but that schedule is now in flux”, WSJ said. “Political and budget pressures on the program, projected to cost a total of between $19 billion and $23 billion to complete, were already increasing.”