NASA’s Artemis Moon rocket test delayed again | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel

NASA’s massive Space Launch Systems rocket, topped with the Orion spacecraft, sits on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

(NASA)

  • The massive SLS rocket aims to take humans to the moon.
  • The “Wetsuit Rehearsal” has encountered mechanical issues and other delays over the past week.
  • The Artemis program is considered a stepping stone to human missions to Mars.

NASA on Saturday announced another delay to its rehearsal for the Artemis 1 mission, a crucial step in the space agency’s goals of returning humans to the Moon in the next few years and, eventually, to Mars.

It’s the latest setback for the rehearsal that aims to test NASA’s massive 322-foot-tall, 3.5 million-pound Space Launch System rocket, known as the SLS, and associated systems for an unmanned launch to the moon later this year.

The SLS was deployed at a launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 18. The Orion spacecraft that will carry the crew members is in its place atop the rocket.

A 45-hour test known as “wet dress rehearsalwas scheduled for April 1 through April 3. The plan was to run a launch countdown to T-9 seconds, just before firing the engines but including loading over 700,000 gallons of propellant.

The test started as planned, but was on break at around T-6am on April 3 due to problems with a ventilation system and other issues. The test resumed again on April 4, but was discontinued due to another mechanical issue.

The weather was also a challenge. During a series of severe thunderstorms on April 2, the launch pad was struck by lightning four times. All four hit a system of towers built around the pad to protect the rockets from lightning strikes. Nothing was damaged, but crews had to spend time checking out some of the rocket’s systems.

NASA tweeted that one of the strikes was the The Strongest since the towers were installed in 2011.

NASA’s massive Space Launch Systems rocket sits on a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in this undated photo from April 2022.

(NASA)

As delays progressed, the rehearsal team had to pull out to avoid clashes with the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Friday. SpaceX’s launch went smoothly, and the Artemis 1 rehearsal was postponed to restart Saturday afternoon.

Hours before the countdown began, NASA said the practice run would be changed and was postponed again, this time until at least Tuesday.

“Engineers have identified a helium check valve that is not functioning as intended, necessitating these changes to keep flight hardware safe,” the agency said in an update. “Helium is used for several different operations, including engine purging or line cleaning, before propellant loading during refueling, as well as propellant emptying.”

Once the SLS and Orion clear, NASA will set a launch date for the Artemis 1 uncrewed mission, scheduled to orbit the moon for about a month to test the rocket’s operations in space.

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