NASA Moon rocket test met 90% of objectives
NASA’s fourth attempt to complete a critical test of its lunar rocket reached about 90 percent of its goals, but there is still no firm date for the behemoth’s maiden flight, officials said Tuesday.
It is known as the “wet-dress rehearsal” because it involves loading liquid propellant. ground, probably no earlier than 2026.
Teams at the Kennedy Space Center began their final attempt to complete the exercise on Saturday.
Their goal was to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, run a launch countdown and simulate contingency scenarios, then deflate the tanks.
Three previous bids, which began in March, were plagued by malfunctions and failed to fuel the rocket with hundreds of thousands of gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
On Monday, the engineers finally managed to fully load the tanks. But they also encountered a new hydrogen leak problem that they were unable to solve.
“I’d say we’re in the 90th percentile of where we need to be globally,” Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters on Tuesday.
He added that NASA was still deciding whether it needed another rehearsal, or if it could go straight to launch. The agency previously said an August window for Artemis-1 was possible.
NASA officials have repeatedly stressed that delays in testing new systems were common during the Apollo and Space Shuttle era, and the problems with SLS are not a major concern.
With the Orion crew pod on top, the Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1 stands 322 feet (98 meters) tall — taller than the Statue of Liberty, but slightly smaller than the 363-foot Saturn V rockets that propelled the Apollo missions to the moon .
It will produce 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust (39.1 Meganewtons), 15 percent more than the Saturn V, meaning it is expected to be the world’s most powerful rocket when it starts operating.
Artemis-1 will travel around the far side of the moon during a test flight sometime this summer.
Artemis-2 will be the first manned test to fly around the moon but not land, while Artemis-3 will see the first woman and first person of color land at the moon’s south pole.
NASA wants to build a permanent presence on the moon and use it as a testing ground for technologies needed for a Mars mission sometime in the 2030s.
NASA Artemis I Moon Rocket Rolls Back to Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad
© 2022 AFP
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