Launches: SLS meets test goals despite leak
Despite an ongoing leak in one of the fueling lines used to fill the SLS’s 537,000-gallon liquid hydrogen tank, Artemis 1 mission controllers declared the rocketship met all of their goals during a cryogenic demonstration test held at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on September 21, 2022.
According to the official NASA Artemis blog, engineers found a workaround for the issue, which allowed them to finish the job. During the test, NASA reported the leak was a recurrence of the same leak that has so far kept the Artemis 1 mission grounded. Nevertheless, the team moved forward:
The launch director has confirmed all objectives have been met for the cryogenic demonstration test, and teams are now proceeding with critical safing activities and preparations for draining the rocket’s tanks. After encountering a hydrogen leak early in the loading process, engineers were able to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the planned activities.
The leak reappeared just as the procedures were getting underway, yet NASA declared it had done what it set out to do:
After encountering the leak early in the operation, teams further reduced loading pressures to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the demonstration test. The pre-pressurization test enabled engineers to calibrate the settings used for conditioning the engines during the terminal count and validate timelines before launch day to reduce schedule risk during the countdown on launch day.
The towering moonship has been drained of fuel and placed in its safe configuration as the launch team evaluates if they can meet a goal of launching Artemis 1 no earlier than September 27, 2022.
Bottom line: Despite an ongoing leak in the SLS’s fueling system, NASA declared the lift vehicle met all test objectives during a cryogenic demonstration test held September 21, 2022.