NASA makes third try to partially gas moon rocket in observe countdown

NASA on Tuesday restarted a two-day costume rehearsal countdown for the company’s new House Launch System moon rocket after a sequence of unrelated glitches, principally involving floor methods, blocked two earlier makes an attempt to totally gas the large launcher to confirm its readiness for flight.

The lone rocket-related drawback — bother with a one-way helium pressurization valve within the booster’s second stage — can’t be mounted on the launch pad, and engineers can be unable to pump supercold cryogenic propellants into the stage throughout fueling operations Thursday as initially deliberate.

As an alternative, the group will consider loading the SLS core stage with 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen gas and 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen Thursday morning, testing their capability to watch and management the circulate of propellants, verifying management room commanding and validating software program by two terminal countdown take a look at runs.

The House Launch System moon rocket, seen Tuesday atop pad 39B on the Kennedy House Middle. After two earlier makes an attempt to finish a costume rehearsal countdown and fueling take a look at, NASA started a 3rd observe countdown Tuesday.

CBS Information

In a single verify, the countdown will tick right down to the T-minus 33-second mark earlier than a recycle again to T-minus 10 minutes to check procedures that might be wanted ought to an issue interrupt an precise launch countdown.

A second run will then will tick all the way in which right down to T-minus 9.3 seconds, the second earlier than important engine ignition instructions could be despatched for an precise launch. At that time, the bottom launch sequencer pc will cease the countdown and the take a look at will finish.

The unique objectives of the countdown take a look at included loading each levels with liquid oxygen and hydrogen.

Nevertheless it additionally “was about testing the Launch Management Middle, the entire (floor assist gear), our sister management facilities … and ensuring that we’re all in a position to function in a day-of-launch setting,” stated Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s first feminine launch director.

Given the helium valve subject, the group “checked out what of these goals can we go and attain with out loading the higher stage,” she stated. “We need to get as a lot information as we will whereas we’re on the pad. The info will lead us and inform us what we have to do subsequent.”

It isn’t but recognized whether or not an extra fueling take a look at is perhaps required in some unspecified time in the future earlier than launch, however the SLS higher stage, generally known as the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, or ICPS, can’t be loaded with propellants until the core stage is crammed as nicely.

In any case, the revised costume rehearsal countdown take a look at started at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as deliberate. If all goes nicely, core stage fueling operations will start round 7 a.m. Thursday with cutoff focused for two:40 p.m.

Whereas the higher stage won’t be loaded with propellants, liquid oxygen and hydrogen will circulate by launch pad switch traces and into the ICPS plumbing to verify the system is leak free.

After the take a look at is full, engineers will spend about 10 days readying the rocket and its cellular launch platform for the 4.2-mile journey again to the Car Meeting Constructing the place the helium valve can be changed.

What occurs after that isn’t but recognized. NASA needs to launch the SLS on its maiden flight, boosting an unpiloted Orion crew capsule past the moon and again, a while this summer time, however the timeline will rely upon what extra testing is required.

“That is the primary flight of a program that’s meant to final for years, to take us again to the moon … and someday to go on to Mars,” stated Blackwell-Thompson. “And so when you consider that funding, and you consider the primary flight, it’s a must to count on that you will study issues.

“You’ll be able to’t have a primary flight and never have some studying. And so what do you do when one thing occurs? You adapt, you take a look at the information, you develop a plan and also you let the information lead you to the following step. And that is what we will do in getting ready this superb automobile to go fly.”

The House Launch System rocket is probably the most highly effective launcher ever constructed for NASA, a key ingredient of the company’s Artemis program to ship astronauts again to the moon.

Geared up with two prolonged solid-fuel boosters and a core stage powered by 4 modified house shuttle important engines, the SLS rocket will tip the scales at 5.75 million kilos at liftoff and generate a ground-shaking 8.8 million kilos of thrust, making it probably the most highly effective rocket but flown.

The 322-foot-tall SLS was hauled out to launch pad 39B on March 18 and engineers started the primary try at a dress-rehearsal countdown on April 1.

However earlier than core stage fueling might start two days later, the group bumped into issues with followers wanted to pressurize the rocket’s cellular launch platform, a routine step to stop any free hydrogen gasoline from making its approach into varied compartments and posing a fireplace hazard.

The issue couldn’t be rapidly mounted and the fueling operation was delayed someday to April 4. Two extra floor system issues prompted extra delays earlier than the helium valve subject was recognized. Engineers then opted to press forward Tuesday with a modified countdown.

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