Beginning just after midnight Monday, June 6, technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida are set to begin ferrying the agency’s massive Artemis 1 lunar rocket to its launch pad for a crucial rehearsal of the count. backwards.
Artemis 1the first launch of the new NASA Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, will send an unmanned Orion capsule around the moon and back. NASA officials have expressed hope that Artemis 1 will lift off as early as August, but the SLS and Orion must first conduct a series of simulated refueling and launch countdown tests, known as the dress rehearsal, which is scheduled to begin at KSC’s Pad 39B on June 19.
The deployment will begin Monday at 12:01 a.m. EDT (04:01 GMT) and will take the Artemis Stack 1 on a 6.4 kilometer (4 mile), 8-12 hour hike from KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Pad 39B. . . You can watch parts of it live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA; the agency will apparently broadcast live views of the VAB when the rollout begins and of Pad 39B when the SLS and Orion arrive there.
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This will be Artemis 1’s second deployment. The first was in mid-March, when SLS and Orion emerged from the VAB at sunset before an audience of hundreds, backed by a full climb moon. It was quite the show. The timing of this deployment is geared more towards utility than show; an overnight deployment allows for more temperate and predictable weather during Florida’s hot and humid summer months.
Artemis 1’s first wet-suit rehearsal attempt began on April 1 and was scheduled to end 48 hours later. It was delayed multiple times, then finally cleared after three different attempts to power the SLS were aborted. A blocked valve and a hydrogen leak in the connections between the rocket and its launch tower halted operations during the process of loading cryogenic fuel into the rocket, and Artemis 1 was back to the VAB on April 25.
The decision to roll back the rocket stack gave NASA an opportunity to address these issues, as well as get a head start on other planned upgrades. For example, during a May 27 press call, Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager for KSC Ground Exploration Systems, revealed that teams had begun installing payloads for the mission. Artemis 1 inside the Orion capsule.
Improvements were also made to the vehicle’s exterior instrumentation covers to better protect against heat and potential storms during the rocket’s two-week wait on the pad. The Pad 39B infrastructure also received early maintenance in the form of increased storage capabilities for nitrogen gas, which the Artemis 1 team uses to purge liquid oxygen from the SLS prior to refueling operations, for of security.
If all goes as planned, the dress rehearsal on June 19 will last approximately 48 hours. NASA released a list of launch windows for Artemis 1, and agency officials have expressed cautious optimism for liftoff in August, but an official target won’t be finalized until data from the dress rehearsal has been fully analyzed. Until there are no more snags in the vehicle and ground systems, this launch opportunity lasts from August 23rd to September 6th, in case you were thinking of making plans for the weekend of the labor Day.
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