MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. (CW44 News at 10 | CNN) — The Artemis I Mega Moon rocket is ready for refueling for its fourth attempt of a final prelaunch test starting Saturday, with the rocket’s fueling expected to begin Monday.
The critical test, known as a wet dress rehearsal, simulates every step of the rocket’s launch without leaving the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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The process involved loading the supercooled propellant, going through a full countdown simulating launch, resetting the countdown clock, and draining the rocket tank.
The results of the wet dress rehearsal will determine when the unmanned Artemis I will launch on a mission that goes beyond the Moon and returns to Earth. The mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to lead to the return of humans to the Moon by 2025 and the first woman and first person of color to land on the lunar surface.
Three previous attempts at a wet dress rehearsal in April were unsuccessful, before the rocket could be fully loaded with propellant due to various leaks. These have since been corrected, NASA says.
A NASA team rolls a 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) Artemis I rocket stack, including the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, at the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 6.
Wet Dress Rehearsal: What to Expect
Weight dress rehearsals began at 5 p.m. ET Saturday with a “call to the stations” — when all teams associated with the mission arrive at their consoles and report they are ready to begin testing and the two-day countdown. .
Weekend preparations will set up the Artemis team to begin loading propellant into the rocket’s core and upper stages.
There is currently a live view of the rocket with intermittent commentary on the NASA website.
Tanking was halted on Monday morning due to an identified problem with the backup supply of gaseous nitrogen. The launch team replaced the valve that was causing the problem. To make sure the backup supply is functioning as expected, it has been replaced as the primary supply for today’s test.
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The hold was lifted at 9:28 a.m. ET. Liquid oxygen, cooled to minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 182 degrees Celsius), and liquid hydrogen will fill the tanks. The venting may be visible as the tank is full.
The two-hour test window will begin later, with the Artemis team targeting the first countdown at 4:38 pm. Due to delay in tanking
First, team members Will go through a countdown of 33 seconds before launch, then stop the cycle. The clock will reset; Then the countdown will resume and will last for about 10 seconds before launch.
According to an update on NASA’s website, “During testing, the team may hold during the countdown as necessary to verify conditions before starting the countdown, or extend beyond the test window, if necessary.” and resources allow.”
Previous wet dress rehearsal efforts have already served many of the objectives of preparing the rocket for launch, said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program, during Wednesday’s news conference.
“We expect that this time they will be eliminated and achieved through cryogenic loading operations with terminal counts,” she said. “Our team is ready to go, and we look forward to getting back to this test.”
The mission team is looking at a possible launch window to send Artemis I on a trip to the Moon in late summer: August 23 through August 29, September 2 through September 6 and so forth.
Once the Artemis rocket stack completes its weight dress rehearsal, it will return to the space center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to await launch day.
There is a long history behind the difficult testing of new systems before launch, and the Artemis team faces similar experiences to the Apollo- and Shuttle-era teams, including multiple test attempts and delays.
“There is not a single person on the team who is away from the responsibility that we ourselves and our contractors have to manage and deliver, and meet those flight test objectives for (Artemis I) to deliver, and is to meet the objectives of the Artemis I program,” said Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, during last week’s news conference.
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