NASA announces successful SLS Megarocket tank test

Engineers repair the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was detected during the SLS' second launch attempt on September 3.  This photo was taken on September 8 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Engineers repair the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was detected during the SLS’ second launch attempt on September 3. This photo was taken on September 8 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
picture: NASA

A demonstration to confirm the hydrogen leak has been repaired appears to have gone well, as NASA on Wednesday announced a cryogenic tank test success. Engineers still need to review the results, but the space agency may be on track to perform its third attempt to launch its giant SLS rocket in just six days — a mission that will officially launch the Artemis lunar program.

Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson announced the ship’s “going off” at 7:30 a.m. (all times east), about 30 minutes after its intended start time. Ground teams have begun the process of loading more than 700,000 gallons of propellant into the megarocket, starting with the base stage. Today’s cryogenic tank test, as it’s called, occurred when the 321-foot (98 m) rocket stood at Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The test comes on the heels of two previous launch attempts, both of which ended in scrubbing, for various reasons. The first rubon August 29, the result of a Faulty sensor recorded wrong engine temperature readingswhile the second rub3, was the result of a large hydrogen leak, which NASA later traced to damaged seals when installing the quick disconnect between the liquid hydrogen fuel line and the core stage. SLS uses a mixture of oxygen and liquid hydrogen, the latter containing Leakage tendency Because of his small atomic stature.

Unprepared to attempt a third launch attempt yet, NASA officials decided to conduct the cooling tank test, the primary goal of which was to “look at the two new seals,” Tom Whitmaier, associate deputy director of NASA’s Joint Exploration Systems Development, told reporters Monday. NASA officials declined to describe today’s test as a rehearsal, as key goals, such as going through the final countdown phase and operating the Orion spacecraft and side boosters, were not included on Wednesday.a test.

For today’s test, a key strategy was for ground teams to employ a “ kindest, cutest“Tank approach. The engineers felt that a slower approach would reduce the chance of thermal shock, as the components come into contact with the propellant that is too cold in temperature.”Temperatures reach -423 degrees Fahrenheit (-217 degrees Celsius). It is possible that thermal shock, or unintended excessive pressure, caused the hydrogen leak on September 3, but the true cause of the faulty 8-inch seal, which showed a possible indent mark of less than 0.01 inch, is not yet known.

At about 9:45 a.m., the ground teams transitioned from slow mobilization to fast mobilization. An hour later, the two teams reported a hydrogen leak at the rapid separation of the missile and the umbilical tail service mast, in what was an ominous sign. Blackwell-Thompson signed off on the subsequent plan to heat up the line and reset the hotspot, and the teams were back in action about an hour later. Speaking to Blackwell Thompson after the test, NASA launch commentator Derroll Neal said, “You can kind of feel the room shrink a little bit, but as [the ground teams] Bypassing it, you could feel a certain elevation of the room.”

After that, the tank moved quickly and smoothly with the completion of the thermal conditioning of the missile Four RS-25 . engines It happened just before 1:00 PM. The teams were able to fill the primary stage and the Interim Cooled Propulsion Stage (ICPS), otherwise known as the upper stage, with fuel. By 3:45 PM, the launch controllers had completed a pre-pressure test, and tank removal activities began shortly thereafter. “All objectives of the Artemis 1 cryogenic demonstration have been achieved,” chirp NASA Earth Exploration Systems at 4:33 p.m., and the test was announced complete 20 minutes later.

“I think the test went really well,” Blackwell Thompson told Nail. “We wanted to learn, we wanted to evaluate [tail service mast umbilicals] under very cold conditions.” The teams are also working with a new loading process, the so-called gentler and gentler approach, which Blackwell-Thompson described as “very purposeful.” Ultimately, she said, “all the test objectives were accomplished today.”

NASA will need to review today’s test results and decide how to proceed. Ideally, the engineers would be impressed by what they saw, paving the way for launch in just six days. Assuming the test was as successful as it seems, NASA could SLS launching early September 27, with a 70-minute launch window that opens at 11:37 a.m. ET. For that to happen, the space agency would still need to obtain a waiver from the Space Force’s Eastern Range, which operates launches along Florida’s east coast. NASA is currently trying to launch a program Artemis mission 1The SLS rocket will deliver an unmanned Orion capsule on its journey to the moon and back.

A successful launch will be the beginning Artemis era, where NASA strives for a sustainable and sustainable presence in the lunar environment. Artemis 1 is a demonstration mission that will pave the way for Artemis 2, in which the manned Orion spacecraft will attempt a similar flight in late 2024.

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