We’re fast approaching the long-awaited first flight of a Space Launch System rocket. On June 20 this year. The National Aeronautics and Space Agency conducted a public test of the Space Launch System Block 1 launch system, which included filling the rocket’s tanks with fuel and oxidizer for a test countdown. After the test, the results and collected data were accepted, giving a kind of “green light” for the first SLS launch as part of the Artemis 1 mission.
As we can tell from the latest NASA report on the status of SLS preparation for this mission, the entire system, i.e. both the launcher and the Orion capsule, are inside the VAB building, where a team of engineers involved in the Artemis program are building it. One last repair was needed before the final trip to the launch pad. While fixing the defect – a hydrogen leak in the launch stand – the message showed that a loose hydrogen connection was found in the first stage propulsion unit. The team fixes the defect in parallel with other preparatory work.
The company continues to say that the SLS rocket will leave the launch pad at the end of next month. However, the exact date of flight depends on the progress of the ongoing work, inspection of the electrical sub-systems on the MPCV Orion, replacement and inspection of the said connector. The nearest launch window is August 23-September 6 (excluding August 30, 31 and September 1), but there are voices that the above period is unrealistic.
It looks like NASA is very close to completing the first mission on the Artemis project, which is being delayed for various reasons. Originally, it was supposed to take place in 2016, after the Constellation program was canceled and a new one was appointed, but the problems that arose during the preparation for the launch significantly delayed the move. Along the way, NASA has gone through, among others, failures of components of the device such as one of the four RS-25 engines in the main body of the rocket and the infection of Covid-19. Problems also affected the financing of the project. Artemis is undeniably a very expensive venture, which is why the American company is trying to keep costs down as much as possible.
The Artemis 1 mission is part of the U.S. space program’s mission to return humans to the Moon. It is intended to test the new SLS carrier system and the Orion vehicle, which will fly around the moon during a multi-week mission, demonstrating its readiness to carry the first astronauts in the capsule during the Artemis 2 mission.
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