NASA’s Latest Plans to Test the Artemis I Moon Critical Rocket

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launch pad at Launch Complex 39B as the Artemis I launch team prepares for its next attempt at wet-clothes rehearsal testing, just like a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew spacecraft seen The company’s Dragon aboard the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations for Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) continue, Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-1 mission is the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Ax-1 crew members Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria of Spain and the United States, pilot Larry Connor of the United States, mission specialists Eitan Stipe of Israel and Mark Bathy of Canada launched on April 8 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA/Joel Kosky

interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) with the ground systems at Kennedy. Due to the changes in loading procedures required for the modified test, wet dress rehearsal testing is slated to resume with call to stations on Tuesday, April 12 and tanking on Thursday, April 14. Wet dress rehearsal is an opportunity to refine the countdown procedures and validate critical models and software interfaces. The modified test will enable engineers to achieve the test objectives critical to launch success.  

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Engineers have identified a helium check valve that is not functioning as expected, requiring these changes to ensure safety of the flight hardware. Helium is used for several different operations, including purging the engine, or clearing the lines, prior to loading propellants during tanking, as well as draining propellant. A check valve is a type of valve that allows liquid or gas to flow in a particular direction and prevents backflow. The helium check valve is about three inches long and prevents the helium from flowing back out of the rocket. 

Following the modified test, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft will return to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where engineers will evaluate the valve and replace if needed. Teams are confident in the ability to replace the valve once back in the VAB.   

NASA will host a teleconference to discuss details on Monday, April 11. Check back at this blog for an update on the countdown timeline prior to the modified wet dress rehearsal testing for the Artemis I mission. NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel 

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