Teams are preparing for the next attempt to at the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal, pending range availability and restoration of propellants and gases during the test. Through the past two test runs April 3 and 4, engineers accomplished several test objectives that will prepare the teams and integrated systems for launch:
- Configuring Launch Pad 39B and the mobile launcher for the test, just as it will have to be prepared for launch
- Clearing personnel and equipment from the launch pad after configuration in order to proceed with propellant loading
- Powering up Orion and the SLS rocket systems in launch configuration, including the solid rocket boosters, the core stage, and the interim cryogenic propulsion stage
- Checking out and verifying the Orion spacecraft countdown and commanding by flight controllers at NASA Johnson Space Flight in Houston
- Checking out the guidance, navigation, and control system and all the integrated software that operates across the rocket, Orion, ground systems, and ground support centers including the Launch Control Center
- Verifying and checking out all the range safety and systems with the range
- Draining the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen after the test
- Powering down the rocket, the spacecraft, and ground systems and putting them in a safe configuration
All these activities are necessary for a successful launch or in the event launch controllers decide not to proceed with launch if a technical or weather issue arises during or prior to the countdown. Completing these objectives will allow the team to use the next test opportunity to focus on executing the remaining objectives during dynamic operations, such as loading the cryogenic propellant and working through the launch countdown.
Inspections after the second test showed the vent valve that prohibited the team from proceeding with loading liquid hydrogen was configured physically in a closed position, which prevented it from being commanded remotely to an open position. The valve positioning has since been corrected.
Teams were also able to demonstrate their ability to work through several issues, such as severe weather, delays in getting a gaseous nitrogen supply source provided by a commercial vendor up and running, and fixing systems like fans that did not perform as expected.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the supporting ground system elements are all in excellent condition and in a configuration that supports the next opportunity.
Listen to a replay of the latest briefing, and check back at this blog for an update on the targeted date for resuming WDR testing for the Artemis I mission.