The Artemis team had time to review data collected from a successful fourth attempt of a final pre-launch test conducted on Monday and determined that no further wetsuit repeats were necessary. The test simulates every stage of the launch without the rocket leaving the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“During wet rehearsal activities, we gradually increased our knowledge of how the rocket and ground systems work together, and our teams became proficient in multi-site launch procedures,” Tom said. Whitmeyer, Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA Joint Exploration. systems development, said in a statement.
“We have completed the rehearsal phase, and everything we have learned will help improve our ability to take off during the target launch window.”
Monday’s test included loading all four rocket tanks with super cold propellant, a full countdown, and draining the rocket tanks. A hydrogen leak and other issues during the test stopped the team from getting this far with two countdowns as expected.
Nonetheless, the team concluded that the testing attempts achieved almost all of the necessary pre-launch goals.
“We only had 13 of the 128 commissioned functions that we projected in the terminal tally that were not successfully completed,” said Phil Weber, senior technical integration manager for the Exploration Ground Systems program at the NASA, during a press conference Friday.
“And we looked at them in detail, and it turns out that the majority of them have already been validated in previous tests.”
Later Friday, engineers will perform a test of the booster’s hydraulic power unit while the rocket is still on the launch pad, a component that was not included in Monday’s test.
“The units contain hydrazine-powered turbines attached to pumps that provide pressure to rotate the booster nozzles used to steer the rocket during ascent,” according to a NASA statement.
Friday night test isn’t necessary, but engineers want to give the system a quick run-through to mitigate any risk of malfunction in the future, said John Blevins, chief engineer of NASA’s Space Launch System program.
Next week, the Artemis team will bring the 322-foot (98-meter-tall) Space Launch System and stack of Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. The stack will remain in the building for six to eight weeks for repairs and launch preparations.
Engineers devised a plan to achieve end goals, such as replacing a seal to fix the liquid hydrogen leak during this time. The team will also test and install pyrotechnics for flight termination system hardware, said Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program.
The uncrewed Artemis that I will launch for a mission that will go 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 lunar surface by 2025.
“The team continues to impress me with their creative thinking and ingenuity,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis Launch Director at Kennedy. “Our Artemis launch team worked quickly to adapt to the dynamics of propellant loading operations. With every step and every test, we are getting closer to launch.”