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Artemis-I Moon rocket to return to launchpad in June for key tests

India Today logo India Today 23-05-2022 India Today Web Desk
Artemis Artemis

Weeks after it was removed from the launch pad, the Space Launch System that will power humans' assent to the Moon will commence another wet dress rehearsal attempt in June. The Artemis rocket will be rolled back to the launchpad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida early next month.

The rocket, along with the Orion spacecraft, has been undergoing maintenance following the first attempt at wet dress rehearsals that was marked by several systemic faults. Nasa said that engineers have successfully completed work on a number of items observed during the previous wet dress rehearsal test.

Currently, inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), engineers have worked on a liquid hydrogen system leak at the tail service mast umbilical, replacing the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) gaseous helium system check valve and support hardware, modifying the ICPS umbilical purge boots, and confirming there are no impacts to Orion as a result of storms and subsequent water intrusion at the launch pad.

"The team also updated software to address issues encountered during core stage tanking of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen during previous rehearsal attempts. The purge boots are not flight hardware, but enclose an area around the ICPS umbilical the connection between the mobile launcher and the upper stage to protect it from the natural environment during propellant loading," Nasa said in a blog update.

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The NASA Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard stands on pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. (Photo: AP)

Repairs to the gaseous nitrogen distribution system have also been completed that ensured the system is ready to support tanking operations. During wet dress rehearsal and launch, teams use gaseous nitrogen to purge the rocket including its umbilical plates, and to support other operations.

Nasa said that the Artemis team is completing some of the forward work originally scheduled to take place in the VAB, which includes opening the Orion crew module hatch and installing some payloads, such as hardware elements for the Callisto technology demonstration, a flight kit locker, and container assemblies for a space biology experiment.

Once back on the pad, the final tests will mark the safety of the system and designate if the SLS is fit for launch or not. During the wet dress rehearsal, once launch controllers reach the point just before the rocket's RS-25 engines will ignite on launch day, they will recycle back to the T-10-minute point, and then resume the countdown once more after a hold.

The Artemis mission is aimed to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.

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