NASA is gearing up for a crucial fuel test of its Artemis 1 moon rocket on Wednesday (Sept. 21) that could keep the giant vehicle on track for liftoff in less than a week.
Artemis 1The first mission in NASA’s Artemis Moon program, a . will use space launch system (SLS) Megarocket to send an Orion capsule on its long journey to lunar orbit and back. NASA had originally aimed to launch Artemis 1 on August 29, but technical issues caused the planned liftoff to fail twice.
The second of those disturbances was a liquid hydrogen propellant leak, which the mission team detected a faulty seal in the “quick disconnect” connecting the SLS core stage with the fuel line coming from Artemis 1’s mobile launch tower. technicians two seals replaced At a quick disconnect earlier this month, potentially solving the problem.
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Wednesday’s fuel test will show if that fix works. The Artemis 1 team plans to pump supercooled propellants — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen — into the SLS on Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Operations are scheduled to begin Wednesday at 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT); It will “conclude when the test objectives have been met,” NASA officials wrote in an update (opens in new tab) Friday (September 16).
You can watch the test live here at SPACE.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency (opens in new tab),
NASA will hold a press conference to discuss fuel testing on Monday (Sept. 19) at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT). That briefing will be live streamed here as well.
Participants in Monday’s discussion are:
- Tom Whitmire, deputy associate administrator for Common Exploration Systems Development, NASA Headquarters
- Mike Sarafin, Artemis Mission Manager, NASA Headquarters
- Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager, Exploration Ground Systems Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
- John Blevins, Chief Engineer, Space Launch System Program, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
If Artemis 1 can’t hit the September 27 launch opportunity, a backup window opens on October 2.
Artemis 1 stack rolled onto pad 39B from KSC’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on 16 August. If Wednesday’s fuel test doesn’t go well, SLS and Orion may have to return to the VAB for more extensive work.
Artemis 1 may have to return to the VAB for some other reason as well. The mission’s Flight Termination System (FTS), which is designed to destroy the rocket if it goes off during launch, was only certified for a 25-day stretch. That time is already over, and NASA needs a waiver US Space Force To let Artemis 1 launch to its current position. (The Space Force oversees the Eastern Range for rocket launches.)
NASA has already received one such exemption from 20 days to 25 days, and requested another. If that second request is rejected, the FTS will have to re-authenticate, requiring a rollback to the VAB.
Mike Wall is the author ofout there (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tait), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab), Follow us on Twitter @spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab),