This week, NASA will conduct a modified wet dress rehearsal to complete testing of its giant moon rocket as part of its Artemis programmes to return Americans to the moon.
The Space Launch System rocket with an Orion spacecraft on top for NASA’s Artemis I mission stands 322 feet tall and weighs 18 million pounds with two heavy rocket boosters. The mission will see the launch of the first uncrewed SLS around the moon.
According to News 6 partner Florida Today, the “wet dress rehearsal” process includes everything up to and including rocket fueling and a final countdown to launch simulation. The teams met the majority of their objectives during the two tests on April 3 and 4, officials stated, indicating supply fan and vent valve concerns.
“Engineers have discovered a helium check valve that isn’t working properly, necessitating these upgrades to ensure the flying hardware’s safety.” Helium is used for a variety of tasks, including purging the engine or emptying the lines prior to loading propellants during tanking and draining propellant, according to NASA’s blog.
During a teleconference call Monday, Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, said they’re exercising prudence and limiting some of the objectives in Thursday’s rehearsal.
“For the most part,” he said, “we’re going to get a lot more data coming out Thursday, and I’m very excited about it.” “… We’re quite confident in the road forward, and we believe it’s a fantastic path forward.” We’re gaining a lot of knowledge about this rocket.”
“The modified testing will primarily focus on tanking the core stage and minimal propellant operations on the intermediate cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) with ground systems at Kennedy,” according to the press release. It will start again on Tuesday at 5 p.m., with a call to stations at 5 p.m., and end on Thursday, according to NASA.
The rocket will be rolled back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for final checks after the wet dress rehearsal is completed, and the valve will be inspected to see if it needs to be replaced.
The Artemis programme is NASA’s long-awaited mission to return Americans to the moon and possibly Mars.
If the first mission is successful, a crewed test trip to orbit the moon will be launched. Artemis III’s goal will be to land on the moon if that mission is successful.
Artemis I is expected to launch in June at the earliest.