In spite of several attempts to carry out this test at the Kennedy Space Center, the teams of the American space agency met a series of problems, having led them to decide to return the rocket to the shelter before retrying this ultimate general rehearsal. The rocket will be brought back to its assembly building to undergo modifications.
Nasa’s new giant rocket for the Moon, SLS, will be brought back to its assembly building to undergo modifications after a first failed test on its launch pad in Florida, almost certainly postponing to the summer the liftoff of its first mission. In spite of several attempts to carry out this test at the Kennedy Space Center, the teams of the American space agency met a series of problems, having led them to decide to return the rocket to the shelter before retrying this ultimate general repetition.
A defective valve will have to be changed, an operation which could not be carried out on the launching pad. A leak was also discovered during the last filling operations of the main stage with liquid hydrogen, which will have to be solved.
Despite a good functioning, “very complicated operations”
For “any new launch system, when it goes through this process for the first time, it’s the kind of thing you learn,” justified Tom Whitmeyer, head of exploration systems development at Nasa, on Monday at a press conference.
“The vehicle itself works very well, but the operations are very complicated,” he added. The test consists of repeating all the steps leading to a launch, from filling the tanks to the final countdown, stopped just before the ignition of the engines. Nasa has not yet said when it plans to conduct a new test, but repairs in the assembly building will take at least several weeks, said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, director for the Artemis launch.
Liftoff already postponed several times
Artemis is the name that was given to the American program of return on the Moon. The first mission, Artemis 1, will mark the first flight of the SLS, whose development has been delayed for years. The mission will take place without an astronaut on board: the Orion capsule, located at the top of the rocket, will be propelled to the Moon and placed in orbit, before returning to Earth. The launch date is to be announced at the end of the dress rehearsal.
A launch window was possible at the beginning of June, but is now very difficult to hold, estimated Monday Tom Whitmeyer. The next launch windows, determined by the position of the Earth and the Moon, are from June 29 to July 12, then from July 26 to August 9. The takeoff, initially announced for the end of 2021, has already been postponed many times.