NASA Postpones Critical Artemis 1 Lunar Mission Test to April 12

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has postponed the resumption of the critical “dress rehearsal” for the Artemis 1 lunar mission by two days to Tuesday (April 12).

The agency planned to resume the “wet test” — testing rocket fueling and other critical pre-launch activities — today, April 9, at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Site 39B in Florida.

But the mission team decided to change the test procedure after noticing a problem with the “helium check valve” that prevents gas from escaping from the huge Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Helium is used to clean engine lines before loading and draining fuel, NASA officials explained in today’s update on Artemis 1.

A future dress rehearsal will focus primarily “on SLS main stage refueling and minimal fuel handling operations at the Intermediate Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) with Ground Systems at the Kennedy Center,” the agency said in an update. (ICPS is the top stage of the two-stage SLS).

Due to changes in procedures, wet rehearsal testing is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, April 12, and tank refueling on Thursday, April 14,” NASA added.

This is not the first delay to Artemis 1’s wet dress rehearsal. Testing began on April 1st and the mission team hoped to complete it in about 48 hours on April 3rd. But several problems arose, including a malfunction in the fan system on the huge SLS mobile launch tower and a stuck pressure relief valve on the rocket.

These problems first delayed and then halted testing as the Artemis 1 crew stopped work to ensure the launch of Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station. The Ax-1 took off yesterday (April 8) from pad 39A, which is adjacent to pad 39B. The departure of the rocket made room for further testing of the Artemis 1.

The Artemis 1 mission will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a flight around the moon that will last about a month. NASA won’t set a launch date until dress rehearsal is over and the teams have analyzed the data, but the mission is unlikely to launch before June.

If all goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts around the moon in 2024, and Artemis 3 will land a crew around the moon’s south pole in 2025 or 2026.

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