WATCH: NASA crews test fire SLS rocket planned for lunar launch on Space Coast by 2024

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — NASA crews test fired the SLS rocket on Thursday.

4:50 p.m. update:

NASA finished its hot fire test of the SLS rocket Thursday afternoon.

4 p.m. update:

NASA crews are preparing to test fire the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

The test is set for 4:30 p.m. at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

This will be the second hot fire test of the core stage of the SLS rocket.

The hot fire will last up to 8 minutes and is scheduled to take place during a two-hour window.

Original report:

In less than 24 hours, NASA takes what many call a critical step for the space program when it launches a final test of the rocket that will eventually send humans back to the moon by 2024.

The test is in Mississippi, but there’s a reason the Space Coast can’t wait to see it happen.

“If that launch goes very well, the next time we’re going to see this rocket is on Pad 39B” at the Kennedy Space Center, said Mark Marquette with the American Space Museum.

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The SLS rocket’s core stage must fire without a hitch.

According to Marquette, “This is the most powerful rocket since the Saturn 5, and the last time we launched one of those was in December 1972, 49 years ago.”

The people who want to see that history are expected to flock to the area, possibly by the end of the year, when an uncrewed mission could launch.

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“We’re really excited about Artemis; it’s finally going to happen,” said Dr. Ken Kremer, space research scientist.

He said that the tweaks made after January’s failed test to equal success.

“The core stage was in excellent shape, it’s just that the engines shut down prematurely, about one minute into the eight-minute, test so that’s good news,” he said.

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Out of the 12 Americans who have walked on the moon, only four are alive today.

Marquette said taking the first woman and 13th man back to the moon won’t just write a new chapter in history, but power the rocket renaissance on the Space Coast.

If Thursday’s test goes well, then the core stage of NASA’s moon rocket heads back to Kennedy Space Center in about a month to be rejoined with its two solid rocket boosters.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.