NASA Postpones Critical Artemis 1 Dress Rehearsal Over Exposure Concerns During Fueling

© NASANASA's next-generation moon rocket begins its slow-motion journey from the VAB to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral
NASA's next-generation moon rocket begins its slow-motion journey from the VAB to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.04.2022
NASA confirmed in a late Saturday release that at least four lightning strikes pounded the area around Launch Pad 39B, home of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket. Three towers and a catenary wire structure ultimately safeguarded the rocket from direct lightning impact, allowing technicians to continue their critical dress rehearsal.
Officials have postponed what was supposed to be a nearly 3-day ‘wet dress rehearsal’ for the Artemis 1 SLS rocket after team members of the moon mission found themselves unable to pressurize the mobile launcher used to provide propellant to the megarocket.
“Wet” dress rehearsals refer to tests in which a spacecraft’s rockets are loaded with liquid propellant necessary for take off.
“The fans are needed to provide positive pressure to the enclosed areas within the mobile launcher and keep out hazardous gases,” NASA’s Madison Tuttle said in a statement.
As a result, technicians were unable to safely proceed with the fueling portion of the test, which kicked off around 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Friday.
The fueling segment requires more than 700,000 gallons (3.2 million liters) of propellant to be pumped into SLS megarocket’s core stage and cryogenic propulsion stage.
NASA officials have said that teams are expected to continue the tanking process as early as Monday, depending on discussions regarding range and commodity availability.
The NASA Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard stands on pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, March 18, 2022. NASA is kicking off a critical countdown test for its new moon rocket. The two-day dress rehearsal began Friday, April 1, 2022 at Florida's Kennedy Space Center and will culminate Sunday with the loading of the rocket's fuel tanks. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.04.2022
NASA’s Artemis 1 Begins Critical ‘Wet Dress Rehearsal’ Ahead of Summer Liftoff
Artemis 1 team members began fueling the megarocket Sunday morning, just hours after the area surrounding its upgraded launch pad endured severe weather, including at least four lightning strikes.
The SLS and its Orion crew capsule were spared from lightning strikes that could cause dayslong delays, including at least one strike deemed to be the strongest encountered by the new system. Both the SLS and Orion capsule were powered up, while the side-mounted solid rocket boosters and an interim cryogenic propulsion stage were off at the time.
“The new system also has an array of sensors, both on the ground and the mobile launcher, will help determine the rocket's condition after a nearby lightning strike,” tweeted Jeremy Parsons, NASA's deputy manager of the Exploration Ground Systems.
The SLS rocket will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft without a crew for its initial four-to-six-week moon mission later this year. Boeing, the space agency’s primary contractor, has been assisting with the development of the costly rocket since the early 2010s.
Despite the postponement, a livestream of the test has remained active since later Friday morning.
No live commentary or audio is likely to accompany the stream, as previously stated by NASA, citing International Traffic in Arms Regulation restrictions.
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