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The Artemis I Mega Moon rocket is ready for another test to travel to the Moon and back before its next launch attempt.
The launch director gave a “go” to start tanking for Artemis I cryogenic demonstration test Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., and NASA will share live coverage of it Website, If all goes well, the team expects the Test to be completed by 3 pm.
The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft sit on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Since the Artemis I mission’s second scrubbed launch attempt on Sept. 3, engineers have replaced two seals at an interface for the liquid hydrogen fuel line between the rocket and mobile launcher, according to NASA officials. These seals were associated with a large hydrogen leak, which led to the launch attempt being cleared.
When engineers replaced the seal on the 8-inch (20-centimeter) quick disconnect line for hydrogen, they found an indentation, Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, said Monday at a NASA press conference.
Indentation 0.01 in. was under (0.3 millimeters), and This allows the pressurized gas to leak out, something that can be very dangerous given the flammability of hydrogen when it meets air. The team believes the dent is linked to the leak, but test results can confirm this.
The cryogenic demonstration is intended to test the seal and supercooled propellant using updated, “kinder and gentler” loading procedures that the rocket will experience on launch day.
is different from wet dress rehearsalIn Artemis I’s previous tests that simulated every stage before launch, the cryo test countdown focused on a very specific aspect: loading supercooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the rocket’s main stage and upper stage.
Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program, said the Orion spacecraft and rocket booster will remain unpowered during the test, and the team does not intend to go into the terminal countdown or the last 10 minutes of the countdown before launch. . at Kennedy Space Center.
Kinder and gentler loading procedures are in place to reduce pressure spikes and thermal spikes seen during pre-launch attempts. To achieve this, the team will gradually increase the pressure on the liquid hydrogen storage tank. The process is estimated to take no more than 30 minutes, Parsons said.
“It’s going to be a very slow, steady ramp up,” Parsons said. “So (we’re) really trying to gradually introduce some of those thermal differences and reduce the thermal and pressure shock.”
Liquid oxygen is relatively dense, about the density of water, and is pumped into the rocket. Meanwhile, hydrogen is very light, so it is transferred using pressure rather than pumping it, said Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for general exploration systems development.
Whitmeyer said the new loading operations will use a slower rate of pressure with a more gradual temperature change.
The test will also include an engine bleed, which cools the engine for launch. The mission team reconstructed the first Artemis I launch attempt on 29 August primarily due to a problem with a faulty sensor during this bleed.
After both liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen have reached the refill stage — because some of the supercooled propellant boils off — the team will conduct a pre-pressurization test.
According to NASA officials, “the test will bring the liquid hydrogen tank to the pressure level it will experience just before launch, while engineers calibrate the settings for conditioning the engine at a higher flow rate, as done during the terminal count.” Will go.” “Performance testing during the demonstration will enable teams to dial-in required settings and validate timelines prior to launch day, reducing schedule risk during the launch countdown.”
If the cryo test goes well, the next launch attempt could take place on Tuesday, September 27, with a 70-minute window that opens at 11:37 a.m. Mission managers will meet on September 25 to discuss test results to assess a possible launch date.
The Artemis team is receiving daily briefings about Hurricane Fiona to see if it has any impact on whether the rocket stack needs to be moved back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, a process that could take up to three days.
If Artemis I launches on September 27, it will go on a 39-day mission and return to Earth on November 5. Another backup launch date is possible on October 2. Although these launch dates are recommended by NASA, the team ultimately relies on one. Decision by the US Space Force, which would require issuing a waiver for the launch.
The US Space Force, a branch of the military, still oversees all rocket launches from the East Coast of the United States, including NASA’s Florida launch site, and that area is known as the Eastern Range.
Range officers are tasked with ensuring that there is no danger to people or property from any launch attempt.
The Artemis team is continuing “productive and collaborative” discussions with Eastern Range, and NASA is sharing additional detailed information requested by the Space Force for review.
“We’re going to leave when we’re ready,” Sarafin said. “But in terms of the reward of flying this flight, we’ve said from the outset that this is the first in a complex series of missions, and it is a purposefully stress test of the rocket.”
The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will mark the beginning of a phase of NASA’s space exploration aimed at landing diverse astronaut crews on previously unexplored regions of the Moon – Artemis II and. Artemis III The missions are scheduled for 2024 and 2025, respectively – and eventually deliver crewed missions to Mars.
agency released on Tuesday Updated version of its “Moon to Mars” objectivesWhich prepares a blueprint for the exploration of the Solar System.
“We are helping lead humanity’s global movement into deep space,” Jim Frey, NASA’s associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said in a statement.
“The objectives will help ensure a long-term strategy for solar system exploration, objective and weather can maintain the stability of political and funding changes.”