A ground test of NASA’s new megarocket for the Moon, which was aimed at verifying the success of repairs made after two failed takeoff attempts a few weeks ago, was successfully carried out on Wednesday, September 21, in Florida, the agency announced. American space. . “All the objectives that we had set for ourselves have been met”said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, launch manager for the Artemis 1 mission, which is to be the first in the program to return Americans to the Moon.
In early September, the launch of the SLS rocket, the most powerful ever built, had to be canceled at the last minute due to a leak observed when filling its tanks with cryogenic fuel: oxygen and liquid hydrogen. As hydrogen is highly flammable, these leaks must be avoided at all costs.
Since then, NASA has carried out repairs, replacing a gasket at the connection between the rocket and the large pipes that feed it with fuel. This seal had obviously been damaged by debris of unknown origin. Wednesday’s test included refilling the fuel tanks. A slight leak of hydrogen was again observed during operations, but NASA teams were able to verify it.
Last week, the agency said it was targeting Tuesday, September 27, for the next liftoff attempt, in less than a week. An alternative date, October 2, has also been announced. “The teams will evaluate the test data, along with weather and other factors, before confirming that everything is ready for the next launch opportunity.”NASA said in a blog post.
When asked about the question, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson didn’t want to introduce himself, but said anyway “very lively” for the course of Wednesday’s test. To meet the September 27 date, NASA also needs to obtain a waiver from the US Space Force regarding the battery life of the rocket’s emergency self-destruct system, designed to detonate in the event of a deflection. of the trajectory after takeoff. This duration was normally limited to 25 days, but the rocket has been on its launch pad for much longer.
Additionally, Hurricane Fiona’s track off Florida is being closely monitored.