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 fuel, running a full countdown simulating the launch, resetting the countdown clock, and draining the missile tanks.
After three test attempts in April, the missile group was returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building on April 26 to resolve issues that arose during the test attempts.
So far, the team is working to replace a faulty check valve in the rocket’s upper stage that caused the helium leak and fix the source of the hydrogen leak in the tail. Meanwhile, Air Liquide, which supplies the launch pad with nitrogen gas, is improving its pipeline configuration to support the tests and launch of Artemis I.
While inspecting the check valve, the team found a small piece of rubber that was preventing it from closing properly, said Jim Frey, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. from NASA, during a press conference on Thursday.
Frey said no issues were found with the valve and engineers were investigating where the rubber came from as it was not originally part of the valve. The team also narrowed down the possible causes of the hydrogen leak.
Once the rocket stack returns to the launch pad in late May, Frye said, it will take 12 to 14 days before the rocket passes another test, which could be as early as mid-June.
“We’ve done a lot of work to get the rocket ready to return to the launch pad,” said Cliff Lanham, senior director of vehicle operations for NASA’s Earth Exploration Systems Program at Kennedy Space. Center. “Stopping at the VAB is a stopping point To come back, do what we have to do and come back to the council as soon as possible. So we are working hard to achieve this goal. »
The Artemis team is now looking at launch windows to send Artemis I on its journey to the moon in late summer: between July 26-August 9, August 23-August 29, and August 2-6 september.
“We also want to be realistic and honest with you because it may take more than one try to get the actions needed to get a smoother launch count that gives us the best chance of creating our own launch windows,” said Free.
After the Artemis rocket stack completes its rehearsal, it will return to the building to await launch day.
There’s a long history behind the arduous process of testing new systems before a rocket is launched, and what the Artemis team faces is similar to what the Apollo and Shuttle Castle teams faced, including including multiple test attempts and delays before launch.
The results of the wet-clothes training will determine when Artemis I embarks 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 person of color on the Moon by 2025.
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