Artemis I Rollback to VAB Rescheduled for July 1

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA Program Update

Teams have rescheduled the return of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to Friday, July 1 due a concern with the condition of the crawlerway that leads from Launch Pad 39B to the VAB. First motion is now planned for 6 p.m. EDT.

This afternoon, teams conducted a series of conditioning efforts driving the massive transporter up and down the slope leading to the launch pad. The inclined pathway must be precisely level with an even distribution of the rocks that make up the crawlerway in order to support the load of the mobile launcher and rocket that it will carry.

Teams will continue grating, or sifting, the crawlerway overnight and the rocket and spacecraft remain in a safe configuration.

Teams on Track for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Test

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is on track to begin the approximately two-day wet dress rehearsal for the agency’s Artemis I mission. The test will begin at approximately 5 p.m. EDT June 18 with “call to stations,” when the launch team arrives at their consoles inside the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rehearsal will run the Artemis I launch team through operations to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and also drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.

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NASA to Roll Artemis I Rocket Back into Vehicle Assembly Building

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will hold a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 18, to discuss the status of the next wet dress rehearsal test of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft at Launch Complex 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the uncrewed Artemis I lunar mission.

Due to upgrades required at an off-site supplier of gaseous nitrogen used for the test, NASA will take advantage of the opportunity to roll SLS and Orion back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to replace a faulty upper stage check valve and a small leak on the tail service mast umbilical. During that time, the agency also will review schedules and options to demonstrate propellant loading operations ahead of launch.

The teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website.

Teleconference participants include:

  • Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director, NASA Exploration Ground Systems program, Kennedy
  • Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters

Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars.

For updates, follow along on NASA’s Artemis blog at:

https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis

Texas Gov. Abbott Vows to Fight for SpaceX to Launch From Boca Chica

Greg Abbott

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to fight for SpaceX to receive federal approval to launch its Super Heavy/Starship system from the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Rio Grande Guardian reports:

Asked by veteran broadcaster Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports whether he is concerned about losing SpaceX, Abbott said:

“What I am going to do if Biden interferes with the ability of SpaceX to launch from Boca Chica; I am going to be working every step of the way to make sure that they are going to be able to launch from Boca Chica. We heard the vision from Mr. Patel himself about what they are working on and our job is to make sure they are able to achieve their vision. And I have worked with Elon Musk very closely with regard to Tesla and the Giga factory in Austin, Texas. And we will be working with him very closely, every step of the way in Boca Chica for the future of SpaceX. We want that future and that vision to come from Boca Chica, from Brownsville, Texas.”

Whitlock followed up with: “And not to Florida?” Abbott responded: “Correct.”

Whitlock interviewed Abbott at an economic development event held recently at the Port of Brownsville. Since this event, SpaceX has learned that its application to expand its Boca Chica rocket launching site has hit a new hurdle.

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Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal to Resume on Saturday

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out to Launch Complex 39B for the first time, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — In continued preparations for the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal test, with tanking targeted for Monday, teams encountered an issue maintaining helium purge pressure on the upper stage engine after change-out of a regulator on the mobile launcher. The RL10 engine on the upper stage uses helium to purge the engine and also to activate upper stage valves during wet dress rehearsal operations.

After initial troubleshooting, the team reestablished normal helium purge, and is continuing work to determine the cause of a restriction in the helium flow. Engineers will conduct troubleshooting tomorrow to confirm and characterize system performance. If needed, the mission management team will meet Sunday to disposition any adjustments in the procedures or modifications in test objectives as necessary. After the wet dress rehearsal test, SLS and Orion will return to the Vehicle Assembly Building, and engineers will conduct additional inspections of the related flight systems to further evaluate system performance. The Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the supporting ground system elements remain in stable condition.

The countdown for the two-day test is currently slated to begin with call to stations beginning at 5 pm EDT on Saturday, April 9 with T-0 planned for 2:40 pm on Monday, April 11. While engineers investigate the issue, teams continue to refine the test schedule to account for insights gained during the previous runs and activities, or test objectives, that were completed earlier this week and no longer need to be included in the next test run, such as configuring ground support equipment. Pending additional analysis, NASA expects to have a forward plan tomorrow for wet dress rehearsal testing.

Check back at this blog for an update on wet dress rehearsal testing for the Artemis I mission. NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel. Real-time updates will be provided on the Exploration Ground Systems Twitter account with “go” for tanking.

NASA’s First Practice Countdown of Space Launch System Ends with Glass (and Tank) Half Filled

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

by David Bullock and Douglas Messier

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA ended its first attempt to conduct a wet dress rehearsal for the maiden flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft to the moon on Tuesday after four days of wrestling with a series of technical challenges and weather delays.

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NASA Prepares for Next Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Attempt

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams are preparing for the next attempt to at the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal, pending range availability and restoration of propellants and gases during the test. Through the past two test runs April 3 and 4, engineers accomplished several test objectives that will prepare the teams and integrated systems for launch:

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NASA Ends Dress Rehearsal with SLS Only Partially Loaded with Liquid Oxygen

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out to Launch Complex 39B for the first time, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Artemis I team has ended today’s attempt at the wet dress rehearsal  test at 5 p.m. The countdown ended after partially loading liquid oxygen into the Space Launch System core stage tank. This provided the teams a valuable opportunity for training and to make sure modeled loading procedures were accurate. This was the first time using new systems at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B. The team was able to monitor the Artemis I core stage as it was exposed to cryogenic liquids and gather data that will inform updates to propellant loading procedures.

After troubleshooting a temperature limit issue for the liquid oxygen, which delayed the countdown by several hours, the team successfully developed a new procedure for loading the liquid oxygen and filled the tank to 50 percent. Liquid oxygen is an extremely cold, or cryogenic, propellant that is maintained at minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit.

During chilldown of the lines in preparation for loading the liquid hydrogen, the teams encountered an issue with a panel on the mobile launcher that controls the core stage vent valve. The purpose of the vent valve is to relieve pressure from the core stage during tanking. Given the time to resolve the issue as teams were nearing the end of their shifts, the launch director made the call to stop the test for the day. A crew will investigate the issue at the pad, and the team will review range availability and the time needed to turn systems around before making a determination on the path forward.

The wet dress rehearsal is the last major test before launch. This test allows the team to practice propellant loading and thoroughly check out the Artemis I rocket systems as they are exposed to cryogenics.

NASA Tanks SLS Tanking Due to Fan Problems

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out to Launch Complex 39B for the first time, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA Update) — Teams have decided to scrub tanking operations for the wet dress rehearsal due to loss of ability to pressurize the mobile launcher. The fans are needed to provide positive pressure to the enclosed areas within the mobile launcher and keep out hazardous gases. Technicians are unable to safely proceed with loading the propellants into the rocket’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage without this capability.

Teams will now meet to determine next steps and establish a go forward plan. The next opportunity to proceed into tanking is Monday, April 4. Teams will discuss range and commodity availability as part of the forward plan.

Record Breaking NASA Astronaut to Return to Earth on Wednesday Aboard Russian Soyuz as Private Mission to ISS Looms

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three Expedition 66 Flight Engineers are returning to Earth in less than two days as four private astronauts prepare for their mission to the International Space Station. The crew activities haven’t stopped the ongoing space research as the orbital residents studied biology, botany, and physics on Monday.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is nearing the end of his mission as he prepares to return to Earth on Wednesday after a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov will lead Vande Hei and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship when they undock from the Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The trio will parachute to a landing just over four hours later.

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NASA’s New Moon Rocket Rolls Out to the Launch Pad

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the Orion capsule atop, slowly rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 17, 2022, on its journey to Launch Complex 39B. Carried atop the crawler-transporter 2, NASA’s Moon rocket is venturing out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal ahead of the uncrewed Artemis I launch. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s mega-Moon rocket continues its four-mile journey to the launch pad after leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building after a planned stop to adjust the Crew Access Arm. Traveling at a top speed of .82 mph, the crawler-transporter with the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft atop the mobile launcher is on its way to Launch Complex 39B.

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NASA to Roll Out First Space Launch System Rocket to Launch Pad Today

A close-up view of the Artemis I Space Launch System rocket inside High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 20, 2021. All 10 levels of work platforms have been retracted from around the rocket as part of the umbilical release and retract test. (Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Roll out of the integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B is slated for today, Thursday, March 17.

Live coverage for rollout begins at 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 17 and will include live remarks from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other guests. Coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website

At the pad, NASA will conduct a final prelaunch test known as wet dress rehearsal, which includes loading the SLS propellant tanks and conducting a launch countdown.

The rollout involves a 4-mile journey between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pad, expected to take between six and 12 hours. Live, static camera views of the debut and arrival at the pad will be available starting at 4 p.m. EDT on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone on the way to Mars.

For updates, follow along on NASA’s Artemis blog at:

https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/

Problem with Engine Flight Controller to Delay First SLS/Orion launch

SLS and Orion full stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft are undergoing integrated testing inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to ensure they are “go” for launch of the Artemis I mission early next year.

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NASA Fully Stacked for Moon Mission, Readies for Artemis I

SLS and Orion full stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Orion spacecraft is secured atop the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket, and the integrated system is entering the final phase of preparations for an upcoming uncrewed flight test around the Moon. The mission, known as Artemis I, will pave the way for a future flight test with crew before NASA establishes a regular cadence of more complex missions with astronauts on and around the Moon under Artemis. With stacking complete, a series of integrated tests now sit between the mega-Moon rocket and targeted liftoff for deep space in February 2022.

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Artemis I Core Stage Transported to Its New Home

Artemis I core stage in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) core stage for the Artemis I mission arrived on April 27, 2021, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The core stage arrived aboard the Pegasus barge from NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf.

The core stage is shown being transported into the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building on a self-propelled module transporter on April 29, 2021. Teams from the center’s Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs will perform checkouts ahead of integrating the massive rocket stage with the twin solid rocket boostersOrion spacecraft, and additional flight hardware ahead of the Artemis I launch.

Artemis I will be the first integrated test of SLS and Orion and will pave the way for landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface. It will be a proving ground for deep space exploration, leading the agency’s efforts under the Artemis program for a sustainable presence on the Moon and preparing for human missions to Mars.