NASA Announces Successful Tank Test of SLS Megarocket

NASA Announces Successful Tank Test of SLS Megarocket
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Engineers repair the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was discovered during the SLS's second launch attempt on Sept. 3.  This photo was taken on September 8 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Engineers repair the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was discovered during the SLS’s second launch attempt on Sept. 3. This photo was taken on September 8 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Image: NASA

The demonstration to confirm the repaired hydrogen leak went well, and NASA announced Wednesday that the cryogenic tanking test was a success. Engineers still have to review the results, but the space agency could launch the SLS megarocket’s third launch attempt in just six days — a mission that would officially launch the Artemis moon program.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson announced that he would “go” to tank at 7:30am (Eastern time), about 30 minutes after the scheduled start time. Ground crews began the process of refueling more than 700,000 gallons, starting with the main stage. Today’s cryogenic refueling test took place as the 321-foot-tall (98-meter) rocket docked at Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The test follows two previous launch attempts, both of which ended in scrubs for different reasons. The first scrubThere was a result on August 29 faulty sensor recording incorrect engine temperature readingsto work second scrub, on September 3, was the result of a significant hydrogen leak that NASA later traced to damaged seals in the quick-disconnect fitting between the liquid hydrogen fuel line and the main stage. SLS uses a mixture of oxygen and liquid hydrogen, the latter a tendency to leak due to its small atomic size.

Unwilling to attempt a third launch just yet, NASA officials decided to conduct a cryogenic refueling test, the main purpose of which was to “see the two new seals.” NASA informed journalists about this on Monday. NASA officials refrained from calling today’s test a wetsuit exercise because key wetsuit objectives, such as moving into the terminal countdown phase and powering up the Orion spacecraft and side boosters, were not included on Wednesday.test of

For today’s test, a key strategy was for ground teams to employ a “kinder, gentler” approach to tanking. Engineers felt that a slower approach would reduce the chance of thermal shock as the components come into contact with ultra-cold fuels at temperatures.It reaches -423 degrees Fahrenheit (-217 degrees Celsius). It is possible that the September 3 hydrogen leak caused shock or unrelenting thermal pressure, but the 8-inch defective seal, which exhibits a possible indentation mark less than 0.01 inch in size, is not yet known.

Around 9:45 a.m., ground crews switched from slow charging to fast charging. An hour later, teams reported a hydrogen leak during rapid separation between the rocket and tail service mast umbilical, an ominous sign. Blackwell-Thompson signed off on the next plan to warm the line and re-establish the connection point, and the teams returned to work about an hour later. Speaking to Blackwell-Thompson after the test, NASA launch commentator Derrol Nail said, “You can feel the room dimming a little bit, but [the ground teams] if you pass it, you can feel a certain elevation of the room.

After the thermal conditioning of the missile was completed, refueling proceeded quickly and smoothly. four RS-25 engines Just before 1:00 p.m., the teams managed to fully fuel the main stage and the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), otherwise known as the upper stage. At 3:45 p.m., launch controllers completed pre-pressurization tests, and de-tanking activities began shortly thereafter. “All Goals Met for Artemis 1 Cryogenic Demonstration” he tweeted NASA’s Reconnaissance Earth Systems announced at 4:33 p.m. that the test would end 20 minutes later.

“I think the test went really well,” Blackwell-Thompson Nail said. “We wanted to learn, we wanted to evaluate [tail service mast umbilicals] under cryogenic conditions. He said teams are also working with a new loading operation called a friendlier, softer approach, which Blackwell-Thompson called “very targeted.” Finally, “all test objectives were met today,” he said.

NASA must review today’s test results and decide how to move forward. Ideally, the engineers will like what they see and prepare the groundwork for a launch in just six days. Assuming the test is as successful as it seems, NASA might Launch SLS on September 27, with a 70-minute opening window at 11:37 a.m. ET. However, for that to happen, the space agency still needs to get a waiver from the Space Force East Range, which manages launches along Florida’s east coast. NASA is currently trying to launch the rocket Artemis 1 missionwhere the SLS rocket will deliver an unmanned Orion capsule on a trip to the Moon and back.

A successful launch will be the beginning It was Artemis, where NASA seeks a sustainable and sustainable presence in the lunar environment. Artemis 1 is a demonstration mission that will set the stage for Artemis 2, when the crewed Orion spacecraft will attempt a similar journey in late 2024.

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