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Launches: SLS meets test goals despite leak

Launches: Rocket on launch pad with full moon above.
A full moon hovers over Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 14, 2022. The Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft, atop the mobile launcher, completed a cryogenic demonstration test today to practice timelines and procedures for launch. The 1st in an increasingly complex series of missions, Artemis 1 will test SLS and Orion as an integrated system prior to crewed flights to the moon. Through Artemis, NASA will land the 1st woman and 1st person of color on the lunar surface, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and using the moon as a steppingstone on the way to Mars. Read more in Launches. Image via NASA/ Cory Huston.

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.

September 21, 2022
Human World

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