Artemis I Dress Rehearsal Ends Due to Liquid Hydrogen Leak

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams concluded today’s wet dress rehearsal test at approximately 5:10 p.m. EDT after observing a liquid hydrogen (LH2) leak on the tail service mast umbilical, which is located at the base of the mobile launcher and connects to the rocket’s core stage. The leak was discovered during liquid hydrogen loading operations and prevented the team from completing the test.

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Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Update

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is planning to proceed with a modified wet dress rehearsal, primarily focused on tanking the core stage, and minimal propellant operations on the 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.  

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.  

Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal to Resume on Saturday

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out to Launch Complex 39B for the first time, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — In continued preparations for the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal test, with tanking targeted for Monday, teams encountered an issue maintaining helium purge pressure on the upper stage engine after change-out of a regulator on the mobile launcher. The RL10 engine on the upper stage uses helium to purge the engine and also to activate upper stage valves during wet dress rehearsal operations.

After initial troubleshooting, the team reestablished normal helium purge, and is continuing work to determine the cause of a restriction in the helium flow. Engineers will conduct troubleshooting tomorrow to confirm and characterize system performance. If needed, the mission management team will meet Sunday to disposition any adjustments in the procedures or modifications in test objectives as necessary. After the wet dress rehearsal test, SLS and Orion will return to the Vehicle Assembly Building, and engineers will conduct additional inspections of the related flight systems to further evaluate system performance. The Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the supporting ground system elements remain in stable condition.

The countdown for the two-day test is currently slated to begin with call to stations beginning at 5 pm EDT on Saturday, April 9 with T-0 planned for 2:40 pm on Monday, April 11. While engineers investigate the issue, teams continue to refine the test schedule to account for insights gained during the previous runs and activities, or test objectives, that were completed earlier this week and no longer need to be included in the next test run, such as configuring ground support equipment. Pending additional analysis, NASA expects to have a forward plan tomorrow for wet dress rehearsal testing.

Check back at this blog for an update on 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. Real-time updates will be provided on the Exploration Ground Systems Twitter account with “go” for tanking.

NASA’s First Practice Countdown of Space Launch System Ends with Glass (and Tank) Half Filled

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

by David Bullock and Douglas Messier

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA ended its first attempt to conduct a wet dress rehearsal for the maiden flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft to the moon on Tuesday after four days of wrestling with a series of technical challenges and weather delays.

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NASA Prepares for Next Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Attempt

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams are preparing for the next attempt to at the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal, pending range availability and restoration of propellants and gases during the test. Through the past two test runs April 3 and 4, engineers accomplished several test objectives that will prepare the teams and integrated systems for launch:

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Northrop Grumman Successfully Tests Abort Motor for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

The abort motor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System completes its final qualification test at the Northrop Grumman Promontory, Utah, test area. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Full-scale static test concludes qualification testing for Orion spacecraft abort motor.

PROMONTORY, Utah (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Lockheed Martin successfully performed the final full-scale ground test of the abort motor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS) at Northrop Grumman’s Promontory test facility. The 17-foot-tall abort motor is one of three motors comprising the LAS that sits atop the Orion spacecraft aboard NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and is designed to increase astronaut safety on the pad and through initial ascent.

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NASA Tanks SLS Tanking Due to Fan Problems

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out to Launch Complex 39B for the first time, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA Update) — Teams have decided to scrub tanking operations for the wet dress rehearsal due to loss of ability to pressurize the mobile launcher. The fans are needed to provide positive pressure to the enclosed areas within the mobile launcher and keep out hazardous gases. Technicians are unable to safely proceed with loading the propellants into the rocket’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage without this capability.

Teams will now meet to determine next steps and establish a go forward plan. The next opportunity to proceed into tanking is Monday, April 4. Teams will discuss range and commodity availability as part of the forward plan.

NASA ‘Go’ for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Starting on Friday

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out to Launch Complex 39B for the first time, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — In a pre-test review on March 28, NASA gave the “go” to proceed with the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal scheduled for April 1-3. The approximately two-day test will run the Artemis I launch team through operations to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and also drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.

During the rehearsal, controllers will countdown to T-1 minutes and 30 seconds and pause to demonstrate the ability to hold for up to 3 minutes, then resume until 33 seconds before when launch would occur, then pause the countdown. Then they will recycle back to ten minutes before launch and conduct a second terminal countdown to approximately 9.3 seconds before launch, then end the countdown. Sometimes called a “scrub,” launch controllers may decide not to proceed with launch if a technical or weather issue arises during or prior to the countdown. At the end of the test, the team will drain the propellant to demonstrate the procedures that would be used during a launch scrub. After draining the tanks, the team will review the test data before setting an official target launch date.

NASA will provide a live video stream of the rocket and spacecraft at the launch pad beginning at Noon EDT on April 1 on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel. In addition to updates on this blog, NASA also will provide operational updates on the Exploration Ground Systems Twitter account.

NASA to Release Draft RFP for Second Human Lunar Lander

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA plans to release a draft request for proposal (RFP) by the end of the month for a second crewed lunar lander to join the Human Landing System (HLS) being developed by SpaceX, officials announced during a media conference on Wednesday.

“Competition is the key to our success,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in describing the Sustaining Lunar Development contract.

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NASA’s New Moon Rocket Rolls Out to the Launch Pad

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the Orion capsule atop, slowly rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 17, 2022, on its journey to Launch Complex 39B. Carried atop the crawler-transporter 2, NASA’s Moon rocket is venturing out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal ahead of the uncrewed Artemis I launch. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s mega-Moon rocket continues its four-mile journey to the launch pad after leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building after a planned stop to adjust the Crew Access Arm. Traveling at a top speed of .82 mph, the crawler-transporter with the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft atop the mobile launcher is on its way to Launch Complex 39B.

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NASA Sets Coverage for First Rollout of Space Launch System

SLS and Orion full stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will hold a media teleconference on Monday, March 14 to discuss the upcoming debut of the agency’s Mega Moon rocket and integrated spacecraft for the uncrewed Artemis I lunar mission.

Roll out of the integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is slated for Thursday, March 17.

The media call will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT after completion of a test readiness review, which will determine if the agency is ready to move forward with mission activities. The call will air live on the agency’s website.

Teleconference participants include:

  • Tom Whitmeyer, associate administrator for exploration systems development, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters
  • Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director, NASA Exploration Ground Systems program, Kennedy
  • John Honeycutt, manager, Space Launch System program, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Howard Hu, manager, Orion program, Johnson Space Center in Houston

Live coverage for rollout begins at 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 17 and will include live remarks from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other guests. Coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website

At the pad, NASA will conduct a final prelaunch test known as wet dress rehearsal, which includes loading the SLS propellant tanks and conducting a launch countdown.

The rollout involves a 4-mile journey between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pad, expected to take between six and 12 hours. Live, static camera views of the debut and arrival at the pad will be available starting at 4 p.m. EDT on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel.

Credentialing deadlines for in-person activities have closed.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone on the way to Mars.

For updates, follow along on NASA’s Artemis blog at:

https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/

First Platforms are Retracted Ahead of Artemis I First Rollout to Launch Pad

Teams retracted the first two of 20 platforms surrounding the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that allow work on the integrated system in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first platforms to be retracted – which move like hydraulic kitchen drawers when moved – are those located near the launch abort system on Orion in preparation for rollout to Launch Complex 39B for the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Artemis I Moon rocket is getting closer to rolling out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first time.

The first two of 20 platforms surrounding the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft that allow work on the integrated system inside the building were retracted for roll out to Launch Complex 39B. Teams retracted the platforms, which move like hydraulic kitchen drawers, near the launch abort system on the Orion spacecraft in anticipation of the roll.

Teams are continuing to install instrumentation on the SLS’s twin solid rocket boosters inside the VAB. Thousands of sensors and special instruments will monitor the rocket and spacecraft as they roll out for the first time on March 17 and make the four-mile journey to Launch Complex 39B, arriving on March 18. Engineers will capture as much data as possible on the performance of all the systems that are part of the rocket, spacecraft, ground systems used for rollout, and on the pad for propellant loading and other activities. Once all the rocket and spacecraft systems are inspected, the 322-foot-tall rocket will roll to the launch pad for the wet dress rehearsal test, which is scheduled to occur approximately two weeks after it arrives to 39B.

The last steps remaining before rollout include inspecting each piece of the rocket and spacecraft, including physically entering different components of SLS and, step-by-step, making sure SLS and Orion are ready for the trip to the launch pad. As inspections continue, the Kennedy ground systems team is working to remove equipment and scaffolding away from the rocket and will continue retracting the platforms until the entire rocket is revealed.

Artemis I Rollout Pushed Back to March

A close-up view of the Artemis I Space Launch System rocket inside High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 20, 2021. All 10 levels of work platforms have been retracted from around the rocket as part of the umbilical release and retract test. (Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has updated the schedule to move the combined Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for testing to no earlier than March 2022.

NASA has added additional time to complete closeout activities inside the VAB prior to rolling the integrated rocket and spacecraft out for the first time. While the teams are not working any major issues, engineers continue work associated with final closeout tasks and flight termination system testing ahead of the wet dress rehearsal.

Teams are taking operations a step at a time to ensure the integrated system is ready to safely launch the Artemis I mission. NASA is reviewing launch opportunities in April and May.

2021 in Review: Highlights from NASA in Silicon Valley

Ingenuity Mars helicopter flies on the Red Planet. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Join us as we look back at the highlights of 2021 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

1) NASA’s water-hunting Moon rover, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, made great strides this year. The VIPER team successfully completed practice runs of the full-scale assembly of the Artemis program’s lunar rover in VIPER’s new clean room. Two rounds of egress testing let rover drivers practice exiting the lander and rolling onto the rocky surface of the Moon. NASA also announced the landing site selected for the robotic rover, which will be delivered to the Nobile region of the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. NASA also chose eight new VIPER science team members and their proposals to expand and complement VIPER’s already existing science team and planned investigations. This year’s progress contributed to VIPER’s completion of its Critical Design Review, turning the mission’s focus toward construction of the rover beginning in late 2022.

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