NASA’s brand-new Space Launch System (SLS) lunar rocket and the Orion spacecraft will return to the launch pad for final tests “in early June,” the space agency announced over the weekend.
A so-called “wet dress rehearsal” of NASA’s next-generation lunar rocket was canceled last month after several problems surfaced during the process at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In a wet dress rehearsal, the rocket is filled with fuel and counted down as for an actual launch. But various technical problems surfaced during the April effort, prompting engineers to return the rocket to Kennedy Space Center’s vehicle assembly building until they could resolve the issues.
“Engineers have successfully completed work on a number of items observed during the previous wet dress rehearsal test,” NASA called recently in a message on his website. “This includes fixing the leak in the liquid hydrogen system at the umbilical of the stern utility tower, replacing the preliminary cryogenic propulsion stage (the connection between the mobile launch vehicle and the upper stage), the check valve and supporting hardware of the gaseous helium system, and modifying the [propulsion stage’s] Navel wash boots and confirmation that there is no impact on Orion as a result of storms and subsequent flooding at the launch pad.”
The space agency added that the team also updated the software to address issues encountered during the refueling phase of those earlier probe efforts.
NASA’s SLS transport system is poised to usher in a new era of lunar exploration when it lands the first woman and first black person on the lunar surface before the end of this decade. Before that, two test flights will take place. Artemis I will send an unmanned Orion on a moon flyby before returning to Earth, while Artemis II will send a crew on the same flight. The highly anticipated Artemis III mission will bring the first humans to the lunar surface since the Apollo flights five decades ago.
If the upcoming wet dress rehearsal goes according to plan, NASA expects to launch the Artemis I mission with the SLS rocket and Orion in August this year, with launch windows available in the first 10 days of the month and also in the last week.
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