Space

NASA Continues to Prepare Artemis I Moon Rocket for Launch

Artemis I Rocket Beauty Shot

Blue sky and white clouds serve as a backdrop for the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 30, 2022. The SLS and Orion were transported to the pad on crawler-transporter 2 for a prelaunch test called a wet dress rehearsal. Artemis I will be the first integrated test of the SLS and Orion spacecraft. In later missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone on the way to Mars. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Since the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 2, workers have extended the access platforms surrounding the rocket and spacecraft to perform repairs and undertake final procedures before returning to launch pad 39B for the launch of the Artemis I mission.

Technicians are hard at work inspecting, testing, and fixing equipment associated with a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical that was identified as the source of a hydrogen leak during the wet dress rehearsal test that ended on June 20. Engineers have disconnected the umbilical and are currently in the process of inspecting the area where they will replace two seals on the quick disconnect hardware. Working in tandem with those repairs, engineers also executed the last remaining engineering test that is part of the integrated testing operations in the VAB.

In addition, teams performed other planned work on aspects of the rocket and spacecraft. Engineers swapped out a computer on the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage called the Inertial Navigation and Control Assembly unit that was used during wet dress rehearsal activities with the one that will be used for flight. They will test the unit next week. The just installed flight unit includes newly calibrated inertial navigation sensors and updated software to guide and navigate the upper stage during flight.

Several batteries for the rocket elements, including for the solid rocket boosters and the ICPS have been activated by technicians. The batteries on the core stage will be activated in the coming weeks, and all the batteries will then be installed. The batteries provide power for the rocket elements during the final portion of the countdown on launch day and through the ascent.

Engineers also charged the batteries for the secondary payloads located on the Orion stage adapter and will work to install payloads inside the Orion spacecraft in the coming weeks.

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