NASA’s Artemis I Moon Rocket Passes Critical Fueling Test, Next Launch Opportunity Still Sept. 27

launch director confirmed all objectives were met for cryogenic demonstration test

NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket passed a critical fueling test on Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. NASA is preserving options for the next launch opportunity as early as Tuesday, Sept. 27, with a possible backup date of Oct. 2. (NASA image)

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket passed a critical fueling test on Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. NASA is preserving options for the next launch opportunity as early as Tuesday, Sept. 27, with a possible backup date of Oct. 2.

The launch director has confirmed all objectives have been met for the cryogenic demonstration test, and teams are now proceeding with critical safing activities and preparations for draining the rocket’s tanks.

“All of the objectives that we set out to do we were able to accomplish today,” Artemis launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, with the Exploration Ground Systems Program at KSC, said after Wednesday’s test.

After encountering a hydrogen leak early in the loading process, engineers were able to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the planned activities.

The four main objectives for the demonstration included assessing the repair to address the hydrogen leak identified on the previous launch attempt, loading propellants into the rocket’s tanks using new procedures, conducting the kick-start bleed, and performing a pre-pressurization test.

The new cryogenic loading procedures and ground automation were designed to transition temperature and pressures slowly during tanking to reduce the likelihood of leaks that could be caused by rapid changes in temperature or pressure.

After encountering the leak early in the operation, teams further reduced loading pressures to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the demonstration test. The pre-pressurization test enabled engineers to calibrate the settings used for conditioning the engines during the terminal count and validate timelines before launch day to reduce schedule risk during the countdown on launch day.

Teams will evaluate the data from the test, along with weather and other factors, before confirming readiness to proceed into the next launch opportunity.

The rocket remains in a safe configuration as teams assess the next steps.

The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are in good condition while remaining at the launch pad. Technicians constructed a tent-like enclosure around the work area to protect the hardware and teams from weather and other environmental conditions at Launch Pad 39B. (NASA image)
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