Progress Continues Toward NASA Artemis I Launch in August

SLS Rocket and Orion Spacecraft

SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Technicians continue to prepare the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Artemis I inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

During work to repair the source of a hydrogen leak, engineers identified a loose fitting on the inside wall of the rocket’s engine section, where the quick disconnect for the liquid hydrogen umbilical attaches. The component, called a “collet,” is a fist-sized ring that guides the quick disconnect during assembly operations. Teams will repair the collet by entering the engine section in parallel with other planned work for launch preparations.

Technicians have replaced the seals on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical and will reattach the umbilical plate once the loose collet is addressed. Technicians now are testing the newly replaced seals to ensure there are no additional leaks. Following testing, teams will complete closeouts to ready that section for flight.

NASA’s Artemis I Moon Rocket Crawler-Transporter 2

NASA’s Artemis I Moon rocket – carried atop the crawler-transporter 2 – prepares to roll past the iconic countdown clock at the NASA News Center on its way to Launch Complex 39B on June 6, 2022, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Technicians continue work associated with battery activations, and are currently finishing installation of the flight batteries. Teams installed the batteries for the solid rocket boosters and interim cryogenic propulsion stage this week and will install the core stage batteries next week.

Next up, teams will start the flight termination systems operations, which include removing the core stage and booster safe and arm devices for calibration and removing and replacing the command receiver decoders with the flight units. The safe and arm devices are a manual mechanism that put the flight termination system in either a “safe” or “arm” configuration while the command receiver decoders receive and decode the command on the rocket if the system is activated.

Meanwhile, on the Orion spacecraft, teams installed a technology demonstration that will test digital assistance and video collaboration in deep space. Engineers are also conducting powered testing on the crew module and European service module heaters and sensors. Technicians installed Commander Moonikin Campos, who is one of three “passengers” flying aboard Orion to test the spacecraft’s systems. Commander Campos’s crew mates, Helga and Zohar, will be installed in the coming weeks.

Final work continues to prepare the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Artemis I. Teams have identified placeholder dates for potential launch opportunities. They include:

  • August 29 at 8:33 a.m. EDT (Two-hour launch window); Landing October 10
  • September 2 at 12:48 p.m. (Two-hour launch window); Landing October 11
  • September 5 at 5:12 p.m. (90-minute launch window); Landing October 17

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