Everything is going according to plan for the planned next test of NASA’s SLS moon rocket on Wednesday. The US space agency has now confirmed this. During the work on the seals, a “small dent” was also discovered, which could have contributed to the leak, because of which the second attempt at launch had to be aborted.
The test now scheduled is to check whether everything is now tight and whether changed procedures before the start really prevent the formation of new leaks. It should start on Wednesday at 1 p.m. CEST. The plan is to complete the test by 7 p.m. CEST, but it can also be later. NASA plans to broadcast the work live.
Preparation for third start attempt
Like the US space agency explained further, the temperatures and pressure during refueling with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen should now be changed more slowly. This is to reduce the risk of new leaks forming. A total of four things should be checked on Wednesday. In addition to the sealed leak and the new refueling process, the cooling of the engines and a test of the pressure balance are also important. This is also intended to prevent the next attempt to start not having enough time to react to irregularities. If everything goes well on Wednesday, another attempt should be made on September 27 to start the Artemis-1 moon mission.
That would be the third attempt to launch the giant moon rocket, the first two had been canceled for different reasons. First, on August 29, one of the four rocket engines was not sufficiently cooled down, according to sensor data. But it was probably just one sensor that was faulty. During the second attempt on September 3rd, the leak from which the hydrogen escaped was discovered. For this reason, the second attempt to take off was aborted hours before the start of the starting period. Actually, the rocket should soon be returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building, the important system for aborting the launch in an emergency is only certified for 25 days. However, NASA is asking for an extension.
NASA wants to start its Artemis moon program with Artemis-1, the SLS, which has never been launched, is supposed to shoot the Orion space capsule to the moon. The capsule will then orbit this for several weeks before returning to Earth. The US space agency wants to test the technology that will be used to bring people to the moon again in a few years – but this time not just for short visits. People are said to be already orbiting the moon on Artemis-2, and after an unmanned test of the lunar module, the crew of Artemis-3 is even supposed to land. That is planned for the middle of the decade. However, there are great doubts about the schedule and the history of the entire program is sometimes sharply criticized.