Stuck valve stops NASA’s second attempt to fuel giant Artemis 1 lunar rocket

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s second attempt to fuel a megarocket for the Artemis 1 lunar mission ended in yet another hitch due to a stuck valve on ground equipment.

A stuck vent valve high on a mobile launcher supporting the Space Launch System rocket for Artemis 1 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39B caused NASA to abort testing after fueling started on Monday, the agency said.

“Due to a vent valve issue, the launch director has canceled testing for today,” Jeremy Parsons, NASA Associate Director for Ground Systems, wrote in an updated tweet. “The team is getting ready to offload LOX (liquid oxygen) and will start discussing how quickly the ship can be ready for the next attempt.”

According to Parsons, the stuck vent valve was at a height of 49 meters – at the level of the mobile launcher, which serves as both a portal and a launch platform for the SLS.

Monday’s fueling attempt was NASA’s second attempt to fill the 98-metre-high Artemis-1 SLS rocket’s main stage with 2.6 million liters of supercooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, in what the agency calls a “dress rehearsal.” The test, which began April 1, includes a full rehearsal of the launch countdown, including the refueling process.

On Sunday (April 3), NASA attempted to refuel the Artemis 1 lunar rocket, but stalled before fuel loading began due to sealing issues with the mobile launcher, which prevents dangerous gases from entering the enclosed spaces where technicians work.

On Monday, technicians loaded about 50% of the liquid oxygen needed for the refueling test, then stopped for the day,

Initially, the goal of Monday’s test was to simulate a launch countdown that was supposed to end at 18:40 GMT, but delays related to the supply of nitrogen gas for the rocket stopped this work. After resolving this issue, NASA planned to conduct a simulated launch at 22:02 GMT before a stuck valve caused another shutdown.

It remains to be seen whether NASA will be able to repeat a third refueling attempt onĀ  (April 5) or be forced to stop operations to replenish fuel supplies and give crews and launch controllers time to rest. Meanwhile, a private mission to the International Space Station is waiting in the wings to take off.

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