NASA is taking a big step toward returning humans to the surface of Moon.
Monday, the space agency conducted a “wet test” dress rehearsal for its new SLS, or Space Launch System, moon rocket and Orion spacecraft.
This was expected to be a final test before the launch of the Artemis I demonstration mission later this summer.
But a series of technical issues forced launch controllers to re-work their strategy during an extended hold in the terminal countdown that stretched well into the evening.
A hydrogen leak was detected in the quick disconnect fitting that that attaches an umbilical from a mast on the mobile launcher to the rocket’s core stage.
An attempt to fix the leak was unsuccessful, but controllers pressed forward with the dress rehearsal.
“Launch controllers then developed a plan to mask data associated with the leak that would trigger a hold by the ground launch sequencer, or launch computer, in a real launch day scenario, to allow them to get as far into the countdown as possible,” NASA said.
The rehearsal ended Monday evening after the countdown clock reached T-29 seconds, about 10 seconds shy of the previously stated goal.
Still, the space agency says the process provided valuable data.
“The teams performed several critical operations that must be accomplished for launch including switching control from the ground launch sequencer to the automated launch sequencer controlled by the rocket’s flight software, and important step that the team wanted to accomplish.”
A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday morning, where more information could be released about the Artemis I mission and whether another dress rehearsal will be required before launch.
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