Space

NASA Sets New Dates for Artemis I Cryogenic Demonstration Test and Launch

NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket Seen at Launch Pad 39B

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is seen at Launch Pad 39B Thursday, September 8, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as teams worked to replace the seal on an interface, called the quick disconnect, between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line on the mobile launcher and the rocket. Credit: NASA/Chad Siwik

NASA has adjusted the targeted dates for a cryogenic demonstration test and the next launch opportunities for Artemis I. This mission is the first integrated flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon. NASA will conduct the demonstration test no earlier than Wednesday, September 21, and has updated its request for a launch opportunity on September 27. In addition, there is a potential backup launch opportunity of October 2 under review.

The updated dates represent careful consideration of multiple logistical topics. These include the additional value of having more time to prepare for the cryogenic demonstration test, and subsequently more time to prepare for the launch. In addition, these data also allow managers to ensure teams have enough rest and time to replenish supplies of cryogenic propellants.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B during preparations for launch, Friday, September 2, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA and SpaceX also continue to target no earlier than 12:45 p.m. EDT (9:45 a.m. PDT) Monday, October 3, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Teams are working on the upcoming commercial crew launch in parallel to the Artemis I planning and both launch schedules will continue to be assessed over the coming weeks. NASA and SpaceX will review the Artemis I and Crew-5 prelaunch processing milestones to understand any potential impacts. The agency’s Crew-4 return will continue to be planned following a short handover on the space station with Crew-5.

Over the weekend, Artemis I teams completed repair work to the area of a hydrogen leak. This included reconnecting the ground- and rocket-side plates on the quick disconnect for the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line where two seals were replaced last week.

This week, engineering teams will conduct tests at ambient conditions to ensure there is a tight bond between the two plates before testing again during the cryogenic tanking demonstration. They will also begin preparations for the test.

During the demonstration, launch controllers will load supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage of the SLS rocket. The demonstration will allow teams to confirm that the hydrogen leak has been repaired, evaluate updated propellant loading procedures designed to reduce thermal and pressure-related stress on the system, conduct a kick-start bleed test, and evaluate pre-pressurization procedures.

NASA is continuing to respect the Eastern Range’s process for review of the agency’s request for an extension of the current testing requirement for the flight termination system and is providing additional information and data as needed. In parallel, the NASA is continuing preparations for the cryogenic demonstration test and potential launch opportunities, should the request be approved.

Specific times for the potential launch opportunities are as follows:

  • September 27: 70-minute launch window opens at 11:37 a.m. EDT (8:37 a.m. PDT); landing on November 5
  • Under review – October 2: 109-minute launch window opens at 2:52 p.m. EDT (11:52 a.m. PDT); landing on November 11

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