NASA is planning to re-do a major test of its Space Launch System rocket after the last test didn't go as planned earlier this month.
The big picture: The space agency hopes to launch the first uncrewed flight of the SLS by the end of the year, but having to re-run this test could put that timeline at risk.
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Where it stands: NASA is planning to re-run the hot fire test — where the core stage of the rocket is strapped to a pad while its four engines fire — as soon as the last week of February, the agency announced Friday.
For the first test, the four engines of the SLS's core stage were expected to light up for eight minutes, but instead, they only fired for about a minute before automatically shutting down.
NASA is hoping this re-do of the test will see the core stage fire for at least four minutes, allowing the agency and its lead contractor Boeing to gather more data ahead of its first spaceflight.
"Conducting a second hot fire test will allow the team to repeat operations from the first hot fire test and obtain data on how the core stage and the engines perform over a longer period that simulates more activities during the rocket’s launch and ascent," NASA said in a blog post.
What's next: It's not yet clear whether the agency will need to delay the first SLS flight planned for November.
Once the second hot fire test is complete, NASA expects it will take about a month to get the rocket ready to ship from Mississippi to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Go deeper: The next big NASA rocket's time has come
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