The American space agency NASA tested the 'complete' rocket stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) for the first time on Saturday evening (Dutch time).
For the first time, all four of SLS's engines were ignited and multiple flight systems were turned on, but about a minute after ignition, the missile shut down due to malfunction.
The SLS rocket should launch astronauts towards the moon in 2024.
The 65-meter high rocket stage was nailed to a large test building, which was used in the 1960s to test the rocket that made the first moon landing possible.
After firing the engines, they should have run for eight minutes to try out multiple parts of the system, but after about a minute, the engines stalled.
The SLS system detected a sensor error.
It is still unclear exactly how this could have arisen.
It is the first time that all four engines of the first stage have been lit at the same time, to test the other systems of the rocket stage as well.
The engines of the SLS itself have been used before.
The same engines were also under the well-known Space Shuttle.
The SLS is a costly project for the US government.
So far, the project has cost $ 8.75 billion ($ 7.2 billion);
more than 25 percent above the amount that was budgeted.
Watch all four @NASA_SLS core stage engines roar to life and shake the ground in Mississippi. Teams are assessing the data on early engine shutdown.
Avatar Author NASA Moment of places 22:39 - 16 January 2021
See also: How NASA's new missile is already problematic, even before the first launch
SLS missile development has been delayed for years
This test, a so-called "hot fire", should have taken place years ago, so that SLS could have taken off for the first time in 2017.
Now the first flight is scheduled for November 2021.
On the first actual flight in November, if NASA meets that deadline, SLS will also carry the Orion astronaut capsule.
This would then become the Artemis I mission, the first flight in the successor to the lunar program Apollo, with which the US put astronauts on the moon in the 1960s and 1970s.
The capsule is still unmanned during the Artemis I mission.
Prior to Saturday's trial, NASA has already conducted seven other tests with the rocket stage.
For example, in September 2019, the SLS fuel tank was put under extreme pressure to see what the limits were.
At the end of last year, NASA ignited one of the rocket's side boosters.
NASA's 'most powerful rocket ever' fuel tank detonated in test