NASA will conduct the third rehearsal on Saturday, which depends on when the Artemis I mission, which is to prepare astronauts to return to the moon, begins. As part of the latter approach, problems were encountered when refueling the giant SLS (Space Launch System) missile with a length of about 100 meters.
The so-called wet clothing – as the US space agency describes it – simulates every stage of takeoff, except for exiting the launch pad. It includes operating the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft, loading fuel into the rocket’s tanks, a complete countdown to the takeoff simulation, resetting the countdown timer and emptying the rocket’s tanks. The SLS missile weighs 5.75 million tons, and its length is about 100 meters.
The rehearsal is scheduled to begin on Saturday at 5 pm local time (11 pm in Poland) and will continue until 2.40 pm local time on Monday (8.40 pm in Poland).
Every attempt is a problem
The first attempt, which was supposed to end last Sunday, failed due to a fan problem. NASA stated that operations were halted prior to loading fuel into the rocket’s main stage due to “loss of the ability to maintain pressure in the mobile launcher.” At the time, launch manager Artemis Blackwell-Thompson added that the main and backup unit fans were not working properly, and each had different problems.
These are not the only problems encountered on the first try. On Saturday, Artemis I survived a severe thunderstorm. Four lightning bolts struck near the 39B launch site.
Another attempt was made on Monday, but was also halted, this time, Blackwell-Thompson reported, “due to a problem with the plate on the mobile launcher that controls the primary stage (missile) relief valve.” NASA said the valve relieves pressure from the rocket’s core when refueling.
The goal: to return people to the moon
The success of the main test will determine when the Artemis I mission will begin. Its launch will begin NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the Moon.
The unmanned mission could begin in June or July. The Orion spacecraft is set to arrive at the Silver Globe and then fly thousands of kilometers away – farther than any other spacecraft designed to carry humans. This mission lasts several weeks and ends with the launch of the ship in the Pacific Ocean.
Artemis I is Orion’s last test ground before the spacecraft brings astronauts to the moon. Then it’s time for the Artemis II mission, where the crew will fly over the moon. Next up will be Artemis III, during which astronauts will stand on the surface of the Moon. The start dates for the following missions depend on the Artemis I mission.
Main image source: PAP / EPA / JOEL KOWSKY / NASA