The third attempt was not the charm for NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission.
Today (April 14), the space agency canceled the last attempt to load fuel for the enormous Artemis 1. space launch system (SLS), a crucial part of the mission’s “wet dress rehearsal” at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Artemis 1 Team members detected a leak of liquid hydrogen (LH2), one of SLS’s two propellants, along with liquid oxygen (LOX), during tanking operations. That halted today’s fueling activity, as well as other key wet-dress procedures.
“The team will keep [SLS] the core stage LH2 tank by about 5% and the core stage LOX charge will remain stopped. The team will not conduct terminal countdown activities today as planned and will evaluate next steps after today’s operations,” said Jeremy Parsons, deputy team manager for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems at KSC, he said via Twitter this afternoon.
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As its name suggests, Artemis 1 will be NASA’s first mission artemis program lunar exploration. Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a roughly month-long trip around the moon, with the goal of proving that SLS and Orion are ready for manned missions.
The wet dress rehearsal is one of the most important pre-launch steps for Artemis 1. The multi-day test allows mission team members to practice many of the key procedures leading up to liftoff, including, as noted above, SLS fueling and launch. Countdown.
NASA began the Artemis 1 wet dress on April 1 and intended to finish it on April 3. but several technical problems arose, twice foiling efforts to load propellant into the SLS’s tanks. The mission team initially delayed and eventually aborted the test, to accommodate the launch of the private plane. Ax-1 astronaut missionwhich took off from a neighboring platform at KSC on April 8.
The plan was to resume wet dress on April 11. But team members soon discovered a faulty valve in the mobile launch tower of the Artemis 1 stack, a problem that delayed the start of the procedure until April 12 and led to a test design modification: The team decided to fuel only the middle stage of the SLS, not the upper stage as well.
The wet dress was supposed to wrap up today (April 14), but that won’t happen, as the mission team won’t be running the scheduled mock countdowns. We will have to be attentive to know the next steps of the agency.
Uncertainty also surrounds the Artemis 1 release date; NASA won’t establish one until the wet dress is finished and the resulting data is analyzed, agency officials said.
Artemis 1 is a prelude to Artemis 2, which is expected to launch astronauts around the moon in 2024. Artemis 3 will carry astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026, if all goes according to plan.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacepointcom or in Facebook.