Artemis 1’s most recent “wetsuit rehearsal” wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to keep NASA’s lunar mission on track for liftoff in a few months.
Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) Orion rocket and capsule wrapped the wet dress – a series of around 50 hours of refueling tests and countdown simulations – on Monday, June 20. Mission team members noticed a hydrogen leak during refueling operations, but they’ve now decided it’s not serious enough to require an overhaul.
“NASA has reviewed data from the rehearsal and determined that the test campaign is complete. The agency will return SLS and Orion to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy next week to prepare the rocket and spacecraft at launch and fix a leak detected during the final rehearsal,” agency officials written in an update today (opens in a new tab) (June 23). (“Kennedy” is NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, or KSC for short.)
Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission explained in photos
“NASA plans to bring SLS and Orion back to the pad for a late August launch,” they added. “NASA will set a specific target launch date after replacing the hardware associated with the leak.”
The upcoming VAB rollback will be the second for the Artemis 1 stack. NASA pulled the SLS and Orion from KSC’s Pad 39B for repairs in late April, after three separate wet refueling attempts earlier in the month were scuttled by technical problems.
One of those issues was a hydrogen leak, but it was in a different place than what happened in the last wetsuit operations.
NASA will discuss the impending rollback, repair work and launch plans at a press conference tomorrow (June 24) at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), agency officials said in today’s update. You can watch that press conference here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA.
Artemis 1 will be the first mission of the SLS and NASA Artemis programwhich aims to establish a sustainable, long-term human presence on the Moon by the late 2020s. Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion on a journey of approximately one month the moonpotentially paving the way for a first crewed Artemis flight in 2024 and a crewed lunar landing a year or two later.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).