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The Artemis I giant lunar rocket is preparing for its latest attempt at the final pre-launch test, according to an update from NASA officials Friday.
The NASA The team prepares to return the 322-foot (98 m) stack of Artemis I rockets, including the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, to the launch pad on June 6 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rollout is expected to last approximately 12 hours.
The Artemis rocket will undergo its next attempt at rehearsal no later than June 19. Since June can bring a lot of thunderstorms in Florida, the NASA team will closely monitor the weather and adjust the dates as necessary.
The critical test, known as the wet clothes exercise, simulates each stage of a launch without the missile leaving the launch pad. This process includes loading ultra-cooled propellants, performing a complete countdown simulating a launch, resetting the countdown clock, and draining the missile tanks.
After three attempts at rehearsal in April, the missile group was returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building on 26 April to address problems that arose during the test attempts.
Since then, engineers have replaced and tested an upper stage check valve and fixed a small leak inside the umbilical tail service mast used while refueling, said Cliff Lanham, senior director of vehicle operations for NASA’s Earth Exploration Systems Program.
Meanwhile, Air Liquide, which supplies the launch pad with gaseous nitrogen, has upgraded and tested its pipeline configuration to support the Artemis I test and launch.
The Artemis team also checked out some of the preliminary tasks that were originally meant to take place after the next wet clothes rehearsal.
The mission team is now looking at launch windows to send Artemis I on its journey to the moon in late summer: between July 26 and August 9, from August 23 to August 29, from September 2 to September 6 and beyond.
Once the Artemis rocket group completes its rehearsal, it will return to the building to wait for launch day.
There is a long history behind the arduous process of testing new systems before a rocket is launched, and what the Artemis team faces is similar to what the Apollo and Shuttle Castle teams faced, including multiple test attempts and delays before launch.
The results of training in wet clothes will determine when Artemis I will embark on a mission beyond the Moon and back to Earth. This mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first people of color on the moon by 2025.
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