CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission has returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) here after incomplete “wet dress rehearsal” attempts earlier in this month.
During the wet dress-up, which took place on KSC’s Pad 39B, NASA was unable to get its new rocket, the space launch system (SLS), through the full range of tests necessary to ensure that the vehicle is ready for flight. The agency has now taken the massive rocket back to the VAB for some minor repairs and adjustments.
The Artemis 1 The pile left Pad 39B at 7:54 pm EDT (23:54 GMT) on Monday (April 25) atop NASA’s massive Tracked Carrier Vehicle 2. The SLS and Orion arrived at the VAB, which is 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) apart, around 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT) on Tuesday (April 26), NASA officials said. said in an update.
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Artemis 1 will use the first SLS to send an uncrewed Orion capsule around the moon and back sometime later this year. If all goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts around Moon in 2024, and Artemis 3 will set foot on the lunar surface in 2025 or 2026.
It is not clear when Artemis 1 will take off; NASA officials won’t set an official target date until the wet dress is finished and they’ve had a chance to analyze the data.
SLS began its journey from the VAB to apron 39B on March 17 and arrived some 12 hours later, in the early morning of March 18. NASA began the wet dress rehearsal on April 1 and hoped to complete a simulated countdown by April 3.
Unfortunately, propellant loading operations during the wet dress rehearsal revealed various technical problems with the SLS and its mobile launch tower. The Artemis 1 team identified a faulty valve in the launch tower, as well as a hydrogen leak in a line from the tower to the rocket.
The decision was made to fix these problems before another wet dress rehearsal attempt. At the VAB, technicians will examine the Artemis 1 stack and carry out repairs to prepare for another wet dress rehearsal run in the coming weeks.
With all the work ahead, Artemis 1 likely won’t be ready in time for the mission’s mid-summer launch window of June 29-July 12, and is now targeting a date sometime in August. NASA sources told Space.com.
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