NASA’s Artemis lunar rocket made steps before launch

Engineers place the 322-foot (98 m) stack of Artemis I rockets, including NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, through their final steps on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. that they Hydrogen leakage problem Thursday.

The critical test, known as wet wear training, simulates each stage of a launch without the missile leaving the launch pad. This process includes loading the fuel, performing a complete countdown simulating the launch, resetting the countdown clock, and draining the missile tanks.

The team was able to load supercooled propellant into the SLS rocket’s primary stage tanks but “encountered a liquid hydrogen leak on the tail service mast that prevented the team from completing testing,” according to the agency.

“After our troubleshooting, the team decided to turn it off for the day because when you have a hydrogen leak, and you have ambient oxygen in there, you just need an ignition source to shut off the fire triangle. So that was a flammable hazard,” said Mike Sarafin, mission manager. Artemis at NASA Headquarters, during Friday’s newsfeed conspiracy.

Technicians collected data, drained the tanks, and made sure the missile remained safe and stable. Although the team dropout He was able to work through a number of critical test items during the third attempt.

“The massive moon rocket is fine,” Sarafin said. “All the issues we face are procedural and lessons learned.”

Now, the testing team is continuing to assess how to address the leak. Troubleshooting started Friday morning.

During Friday, Charlie Blackwell Thompson, Artemis launch manager for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program, said the team would “look at these particular areas that we think might be the problem, and how to get there” and outline a path forward. conspiracy.

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Meanwhile, the team is preparing for the next potential opportunity in another attempt to practice on April 21, which is the earliest the team feels comfortable, Sarafin said. The Artemis team is working closely with SpaceX because the Crew-4 is expected to launch at a launch pad nearby on April 23.

Sarafin did not reveal the specific plan to keep the race on track, given that only 24 hours have passed since the leak, but said the team was looking into “easily accessible” options.

“Hopefully this is a fairly straightforward thing and needs to be modified or an easy fix, And we can do it in the pillow and do it in a fairly short time,” Sarafin said. Then there are two more invasive options, and we have to evaluate those options against a whole range of considerations that include putting more stress on the car.”

The longer the missile remains on the launch pad, the more it will be exposed to wind and other stresses while exposed to the elements—not to mention the stress of repeated testing. This can determine when the stack will be returned to the Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

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When asked if the Artemis I could be launched without completing certain aspects of the full test, the team said it would have to reach an acceptable level of risk. The ground-test and flight-test programs have not been completed, Sarafin said, so the team has not yet reached that consideration.

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Blackwell-Thompson said the point of the rehearsal was to identify problems that could be corrected before being forced to abort a launch attempt, something the Apollo and shuttle programs also encountered.

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She said there were about five or six fueling runs, or wetsuit drills, for the first shuttle before launch. The shuttle had only one stage, while the SLS rocket had a core and an upper stage that had to be fed with supercooled fuel, making the process more complicated.

Sarafin said the team occasionally talks with individuals who have worked on previous programs, comparing physics challenges, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, frigid temperatures, structural pressures, and flammability hazards.

“History has shown that it has been pretty much a challenge for anyone who has ever done anything of this magnitude,” Sarafin said.

The results of training in wet clothes will determine when Artemis I will embark on a mission beyond the Moon and back to Earth. This mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first people of color on the moon by 2025.

“But I have no doubts that we will finish the pilot and be ready to go,” Blackwell Thompson added.

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