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The essential take a look at, generally known as the moist costume rehearsal, simulates each stage of launch with out the rocket leaving the launchpad. This course of consists of loading propellant, going by means of a full countdown simulating launch, resetting the countdown clock and draining the rocket tanks.
After three makes an attempt of the moist costume rehearsal in April, the rocket stack was rolled again into the Car Meeting Constructing on April 26 to deal with points that cropped up through the take a look at makes an attempt.
Thus far, the group has been engaged on changing a defective verify valve on the rocket’s higher stage that created a helium leak and repairing the supply of a tail service mast hydrogen leak. In the meantime, Air Liquide, which provides gaseous nitrogen to the launchpad, has been upgrading its pipeline configuration to higher assist the testing and launch of Artemis I.
When inspecting the verify valve, the group discovered a small piece of rubber that prevented it from sealing appropriately, stated Jim Free, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Methods Improvement Mission Directorate, throughout a information convention on Thursday.
No points had been discovered with the valve, and engineers are investigating the supply of the rubber because it wasn’t initially a part of the valve, Free stated. The group has additionally narrowed down the potential causes for the hydrogen leak.
As soon as the rocket stack rolls again out to the launchpad in late Might, it is going to take between 12 and 14 days earlier than the rocket can undergo one other moist costume rehearsal, which might happen in early to mid-June, Free stated.
“We have finished loads of work to get the rocket able to roll again out to the launchpad,” stated Cliff Lanham, senior car operations supervisor for NASA ‘s Exploration Floor Methods Program at Kennedy House Heart. “Stopping on the VAB is a pit cease to return again in, do what we have to do and get again out to the pad as shortly as doable. So we’re working arduous to satisfy that objective.”
The Artemis group is now launch home windows for sending Artemis I on its journey to the moon in late summer season: between July 26 and August 9, August 23 to August 29 and September 2 to September 6.
“We additionally wish to be sensible and upfront with you that it could take multiple try and get the procedures the place we’d like them for a smoother launch rely that offers us one of the best probability to creating our launch home windows,” Free stated.
As soon as the Artemis rocket stack completes its moist costume rehearsal, it is going to roll again into the constructing to attend for launch day.
There’s a lengthy historical past behind the arduous course of to check new techniques earlier than launching a rocket, and what the Artemis group is dealing with is much like what the Apollo and shuttle period groups skilled, together with a number of take a look at makes an attempt and delays earlier than launch.
The outcomes of the moist costume rehearsal will decide when the uncrewed Artemis I’ll launch on a mission that goes past the moon and returns to Earth. This mission will kick off NASA’s Artemis program, which is predicted to return people to the moon and land the primary lady and the primary particular person of coloration on the lunar floor by 2025.
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