NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket passed an important refueling test on Wednesday (September 21), potentially keeping it on track for its planned September 27 takeoff.
Artemis 1 It will send an unmanned Orion capsule to the moon’s orbit using a giant space launch system (SLS) missile. NASA attempted to launch the mission on September 3 but was aborted before liquid hydrogen fuel leak In a “quick disconnect” in the SLS core stage, an interface connects the missile to a fuel line from the moving launch tower.
Artemis Team 1 Replacement of two seals Turn the quick chapter on September 9, then schedule a refueling test to see if the repair is working. This test took place Wednesday at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, and it brought good news for the mission.
“All of the goals we set to achieve we were able to achieve today,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director, with Exploration Ground Systems at KSC, in brief notes after Wednesday’s test. day.
This does not mean that everything went well. For example, the leak on quick disconnect appeared again while loading liquid hydrogen. But the team managed to troubleshoot it; They quickly heated the separation, allowing it to “re-stabilize”, reducing the leakage rate to acceptable levels.
Artemis 1 personnel also noticed a different hydrogen leak during a “pre-pressure test,” which was also part of Wednesday’s activities. This test “enabled engineers to calibrate the settings used to adapt the engines during the final count and validate schedules prior to launch day to reduce schedule risk during the launch day countdown,” according to NASA officials. Explained in a blog post (Opens in a new tab) After completing the test.
Agency officials said this second leak was smaller than the other, and the Artemis 1 team was able to keep it under control.
NASA is currently looking at September 27 as the target for the Artemis 1 launch, with a possible backup date of October 2. And it’s too early to make a formal commitment to either of those dates despite Wednesday’s success, Blackwell Thompson said.
“I think we’ll take the data and go see what it tells us,” she said. But, she added, “I was very encouraged by the test today and he exceeded all of our goals.”
Some other things should go the way of Artemis 1 so the mission takes off in the next couple of weeks as well. The weather has to cooperate, for example, and that’s never a certainty on Florida’s Space Coast. The mission must also obtain a Flight Termination System (FTS) certification waiver, which is designed to destroy the SLS if it deviates from its course during launch.
The US Space Force, which oversees the missile launch’s eastern range, has received Artemis 1’s FTS certification for 25 days, and time is up now. The mission applied for a waiver; If not granted, the massive missile from Pad 39B will have to be returned to the vehicle assembly building at KSC, which is the only place where rehabilitation can take place.
“Right now, we’re still in the process of having technical discussions with Range,” Tom Whitemaier, NASA’s associate deputy administrator for Joint Exploration Systems Development, said during a press conference Monday (September 19), referring to the waiver. Situation. “She was very productive and collaborative.”
Artemis 1 has already received one waiver from the FTS, which extended certification from 20 days to 25 days.
If all goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts around the moon In 2024, Artemis 3 will put the shoes near the south pole of the moon in a year or two. The Artemis The program ultimately aims to establish a long-term human presence on and around the Moon, and use the skills and knowledge gained in doing so to transport astronauts to Mars in the late 1930s or early 1940s.
Mike Wall is the author of “Abroad (Opens in a new tab)Book (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab) or on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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