It only took the fourth attempt for NASA to complete a partial countdown for its huge new moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), scheduled to launch later this year.
SLS wrapped up a 50-hour launch simulation known as a “wet dress rehearsal” on Monday evening at the launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, after several failed attempts in April, according to NYTimes.
SLS has never flown and is the rocket that will power NASA’s Artemis program to send astronauts back to the moon.
Monday’s rehearsal concentrated on filling SLS’ fuel tanks. Multiple attempts to fuel the rocket in April ended wet dress rehearsals early. Problems that occurred during the last countdown rehearsals were resolved, but a new leak emerged in a quick disconnect point connecting cables from the mobile launch platform to the SLS.
Besides the new leak, the launch countdown for the 322-foot tall rocket stopped at T-29 seconds, just shy of the nine seconds typically before engines ignite.
“I think it was a very successful day and again accomplished a majority of the objectives,” Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the launch director, told reporters on Tuesday.
Today’s #Artemis I wet dress rehearsal activities concluded after a modified countdown configuration and successfully adding propellant to the rocket. We will review the data and are meeting to discuss next steps. For updates: https://t.co/rZxnWJ0Kbi pic.twitter.com/dKtFZeVWDF
— NASA (@NASA) June 21, 2022
Thomas Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, said filling the fuel tanks with propellant and counting down near zero were significant milestones.
“We’re looking at the pieces of the puzzle to decide what are the pieces that we didn’t get.
“But we also got an awful lot of pieces to the puzzle put together, and we have a pretty good idea of what the puzzle looks like at this point,” Whitmeyer said.
Here’s the final countdown as the wet dress was halted at T-29 seconds.
Now NASA will examine the leak to determine if this wet dress is suitable for the next — a T-9 second target for wet dress launch abort. It will be in preparation to launch the Artemis 1 mission and send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon.
Testing delays might push Artemis 1’s launch to the end of August. The second Artemis flight is a crewed mission around the moon in 2024. In 2025, the third launch will be a crewed lunar landing.
Even though NASA plans to put the first ‘woman’ on the moon in 2025, with how woke culture is going, what’s to say the first gender-non-binary astronaut will beat a woman to the lunar surface?