SLS countdown test on hold after second scrub

COLORADO SPRINGS — After a collection of issues scrubbed a second countdown rehearsal for the Area Launch System April 4, NASA will wait till after the launch of a SpaceX mission to the house station earlier than making an attempt once more.

NASA halted the moist costume rehearsal (WDR) for the SLS at Launch Complicated 39B at about 5 p.m. Japanese April 4. The choice to cease the check got here after controllers couldn’t open a vent valve on the cellular launcher required to start out loading of liquid hydrogen into the rocket’s core stage. Technicians later discovered that the valves have been bodily closed in a means such that they may not be remotely commanded to open.

NASA was a number of hours not on time that day due to different issues earlier within the check. An interruption within the provide of nitrogen gasoline on the launch web site delayed the beginning of check actions early within the day. Shortly after liquid oxygen began going into the core stage, a temperature restrict warning stopped fueling for a number of hours whereas engineers reconfigured the propellant loading course of.

At an April 5 briefing, NASA officers mentioned that they made progress via a number of the milestones of the general WDR course of, together with filling the core stage liquid oxygen tank to about 50%. They made extra progress than the primary try April 3, which NASA scrubbed earlier than any propellants could possibly be loaded into the automobile. “A big quantity of our aims have been accomplished,” mentioned Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA Artemis launch director.

NASA has not introduced after they’ll attempt once more, but it surely gained’t be earlier than the Falcon 9 launch of the industrial Ax-1 mission for Axiom Area to the Worldwide Area Station from neighboring Launch Complicated 39A, scheduled for April 8.

“We are going to observe Axiom on the vary,” mentioned Jim Free, NASA affiliate administrator for exploration programs growth, throughout a panel on the thirty seventh Area Symposium April 5. That mission must launch quickly to keep away from delaying NASA’s Crew-4 crew rotation mission to the ISS, additionally launched by SpaceX from LC-39A, now scheduled for April 20.

NASA officers mentioned in addition they wanted the time to prepare for one more countdown try. “We’ve received to complete sharpening the pencil on the open work, however we don’t anticipate it is going to be an excessive amount of longer than after the Axiom launch,” mentioned Mike Sarafin, NASA Artemis mission supervisor, on the briefing.

NASA doesn’t take into account any of the issues encountered to date within the two countdown rehearsal makes an attempt to be severe points with the SLS or floor programs. “It’s working via lots of problems with bringing the automobile collectively for the primary time,” mentioned Free.

“We haven’t run into any basic design flaws or design points. These are what I might characterize as nuisance or technical points the place we’re studying options and programs that we characterised in subscale testing, however once you put all of it collectively you be taught the place a few of your uncertainties are,” mentioned Sarafin.

These issues will have an effect on the schedule for the Artemis 1 mission, which had been seeking to launch as quickly as a window that runs from June 6 to 16. “We’re not prepared to surrender on it but,” he mentioned of that launch window. “We’ll reassess after moist costume.”

By then NASA hopes to resolve one other nuisance: a scarcity of detailed commentary through the countdown rehearsals, which the company blamed on export management restrictions on technical data. NASA as a substitute offered intermittent updates via social media and blogs.

“We’re engaged on having launch commentary. I do know that’s been one thing that folk actually need,” Free mentioned. “We’re working in direction of that for launch.”

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