(ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s Space Launch System rocket experienced another fuel leak on Wednesday as engineers checked the fuel system ahead of another launch attempt next week.
Testing had barely begun when dangerous hydrogen fuel began leaking in the same place as before, despite repairs being made.
The engineers stopped the flow and warmed up the pipelines in the hope of fixing the leak, after which they began testing. But the leak continued.
Hydrogen leaks ruined the first two launch attempts, as well as earlier tests. During the countdown earlier this month, there was such a large fuel leak that it exceeded NASA’s limit by more than double.
Wednesday’s leak was close to the limit, but the launch team was able to bring it down to acceptable levels as testing continued.
After a previous failure, NASA replaced two sealers. One had a tiny indentation that was only one hundredth of a centimeter.
The goal of the test is to pump almost 4 million liters of fuel into the rocket with minimal leakage. This would allow NASA to set course for a possible launch attempt next Tuesday, provided that the US Space Force continues to certify the batteries on board, which are part of the flight safety system.
In addition to replacing the seals, NASA changed the refueling process, pouring fuel more slowly to put less stress on the fuel system.
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is more powerful than the Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The rocket is powered by the same engines and boosters that were used on the now decommissioned space shuttles. Just as it is now, NASA battled elusive hydrogen leaks during the shuttle era, especially in the early 1990s.
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