Artemis I Moon Rocket to Return to Launch Pad 39B in Early June

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) — The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft are slated to return to launch pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in early June for the next wet dress rehearsal attempt.    

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Artemis I Mission Availability Dates

Orion and European Service Module orbiting the Moon. (Credit NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — When Artemis I is ready to launch, a range of personnel from NASA, industry, and several international partners will be poised to support the mission. Before they get to launch day, the alignment of the Earth and Moon will determine when the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the uncrewed Orion spacecraft atop it can launch, along with several criteria for rocket and spacecraft performance. 

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Engineers Continue to Work on Space Launch System

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 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida continue to work on the main tasks needed to prepare the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft to return to launch pad 39B for the next wet dress rehearsal attempt.

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NASA to Roll Artemis I Rocket Back into Vehicle Assembly Building

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 will hold a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 18, to discuss the status of the next wet dress rehearsal test of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft at Launch Complex 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the uncrewed Artemis I lunar mission.

Due to upgrades required at an off-site supplier of gaseous nitrogen used for the test, NASA will take advantage of the opportunity to roll SLS and Orion back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to replace a faulty upper stage check valve and a small leak on the tail service mast umbilical. During that time, the agency also will review schedules and options to demonstrate propellant loading operations ahead of launch.

The teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website.

Teleconference participants include:

  • Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director, NASA Exploration Ground Systems program, Kennedy
  • Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters

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 to send astronauts to Mars.

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

https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis

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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NASA Inspector General’s Report Criticizes Agency’s Cost and Schedule Practices

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)

Congress is unable to make informed funding decisions about NASA’s multi-mission programs because the space agency is not providing it with federally mandated cost and schedule information, according to a new report from the NASA Office of Inspector General.

“Specifically, for the programs supporting Artemis, the Agency’s return-to-the-Moon and ultimately to Mars effort, NASA is circumventing required cost and schedule controls by categorizing certain production costs as operations costs when, in our opinion, they should be categorized as development costs,” the report said.

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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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NASA Ends Dress Rehearsal with SLS Only Partially Loaded with Liquid Oxygen

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) — The Artemis I team has ended today’s attempt at the wet dress rehearsal  test at 5 p.m. The countdown ended after partially loading liquid oxygen into the Space Launch System core stage tank. This provided the teams a valuable opportunity for training and to make sure modeled loading procedures were accurate. This was the first time using new systems at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B. The team was able to monitor the Artemis I core stage as it was exposed to cryogenic liquids and gather data that will inform updates to propellant loading procedures.

After troubleshooting a temperature limit issue for the liquid oxygen, which delayed the countdown by several hours, the team successfully developed a new procedure for loading the liquid oxygen and filled the tank to 50 percent. Liquid oxygen is an extremely cold, or cryogenic, propellant that is maintained at minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit.

During chilldown of the lines in preparation for loading the liquid hydrogen, the teams encountered an issue with a panel on the mobile launcher that controls the core stage vent valve. The purpose of the vent valve is to relieve pressure from the core stage during tanking. Given the time to resolve the issue as teams were nearing the end of their shifts, the launch director made the call to stop the test for the day. A crew will investigate the issue at the pad, and the team will review range availability and the time needed to turn systems around before making a determination on the path forward.

The wet dress rehearsal is the last major test before launch. This test allows the team to practice propellant loading and thoroughly check out the Artemis I rocket systems as they are exposed to cryogenics.

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.

Record Breaking NASA Astronaut to Return to Earth on Wednesday Aboard Russian Soyuz as Private Mission to ISS Looms

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three Expedition 66 Flight Engineers are returning to Earth in less than two days as four private astronauts prepare for their mission to the International Space Station. The crew activities haven’t stopped the ongoing space research as the orbital residents studied biology, botany, and physics on Monday.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is nearing the end of his mission as he prepares to return to Earth on Wednesday after a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov will lead Vande Hei and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship when they undock from the Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The trio will parachute to a landing just over four hours later.

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