NASA counts down 29 seconds after massive SLS rocket launch

NASA counts down 29 seconds after massive SLS rocket launch

enlarge /(*29*) A NASA Space Launch System rocket displays off a spinning chute at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its fourth rehearsal on June 6, 2022.

Trevor Mallerman

NASA made three makes an attempt in April to finish a essential gasoline check for its giant rocket for the Space Launch System. And 3 times, the area company failed resulting from about half a dozen technical points.

So NASA made the troublesome choice to ship the massive rocket again to the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs, delaying a plan that had been years delayed by two months. After the work was accomplished in early June, NASA returned the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft to the launch pad for a fourth try.

The painful choice proved to be the correct one. In simply over 14 hours on Monday, NASA was in a position to full the refueling check, delivering lots of of 1000’s of gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen to the primary and second levels of the SLS rocket.

“It’s been an extended day for the workforce, however I believe it has been a really profitable day for the workforce,” he stated. (*29*)Charlie Blackwell Thompson, launch director for Artemis.

She and different NASA officers participated in a convention name with reporters on Tuesday to debate the outcomes of a fourth “trial” check designed to grasp the twists and turns of the countdown to the rocket’s launch day. In this sense, the check seems to be largely profitable. NASA entered in T-29 seconds throughout the check, approached its meant goal of T-9.3 seconds, and ended the check earlier than firing the rocket’s 4 most important engines.

During the decision, NASA officers declined to reply particular questions on whether or not a fifth check could be wanted (to deliver the rely down to T-9.3 seconds) or when the rocket could be prepared for its first launch. Officials stated they needed to evaluation extra information, saying they hoped to supply the knowledge inside two days. However, out of your feedback it seems that officers could also be leaning in direction of a fifth check.

A lot of technical issues occurred throughout Monday’s check, not the least of which was a hydrogen leak attributable to a fast disconnect on the base of the cell tower that helps the SLS rocket throughout refueling. The 4-inch hydrogen line is one in every of a number of which are launched from the missile and related to the service mast on the stern of the tower earlier than launch.

NASA could not repair the leak within the second half of Monday’s check, so it selected to cover the leak from the bottom sequencer, the bottom laptop that controls a lot of the countdown. This poses no hazard to the missile throughout testing, however should be repaired earlier than precise launch.

With somewhat stealth, the NASA launch workforce was in a position to go from T-10 to T-29 minutes and demonstrated the power to not solely fill the SLS rocket, but additionally keep its gasoline tanks. When the bottom launch regulator is handed over to the rocket onboard laptop for the ultimate a part of the countdown, the flight laptop mechanically ends the countdown.

NASA officers like what they see. “This is the primary time we have been in extraordinarily chilly situations at each the junior and senior ranges,” Blackwell Thompson stated. “The remaining rely was a really dynamic time. I hoped we may talk about a factor or two within the remaining rely, nevertheless it went very nicely. Not a lot to speak about.”

The refueling check is the final main hurdle between the SLS rocket and its launch try later this yr. There continues to be work to be completed, and the company should determine whether or not a wetsuit check is required. But Artemis 1 mission chief Mike Sarafin stated he believes NASA has achieved about 90 % of its testing targets thus far.

In addition to repairing the leaking hydrogen seal, NASA might want to return the rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building to put in and arm the flight termination system. The work may thwart launch makes an attempt as early as the tip of September.

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