NASA gives update on critical fueling test for Artemis 1

NASA has provided the public with an update on its repaired Artemis 1 moon rocket named the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

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Last month NASA wanted to kick start its Artemis missions by initiating Artemis 1, a reconnaissance journey around the Moon that would provide the space agency with the foundational knowledge that’ll be used in future Artemis missions. NASA attempted to launch the SLS rocket on September 3 but encountered an unexpected liquid hydrogen leak, specifically at the “quick disconnect” interface located on the SLS’s core stage. The fuel leak was unable to be remedied in time for launch resulting in the space agency postponing the launch to a later date and repairs to be conducted on the malfunctioning area.

Artemis 1 teams were able to identify the issue and replaced two seals around the quick disconnect on September 9, and following the repairs, the space agency scheduled a fueling test to see if the improvements were adequate. The fueling test was conducted on Wednesday this week, and overall, NASA has deemed the repairs a success as “all of the objects that we set out to do we were able to accomplish today“.

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However, that doesn’t mean the fueling test went perfectly smooth. The space agency explains that during the liquid-hydrogen fueling phase, the leak at the quick disconnect presented itself again. However, this time, NASA teams were able to reduce the amount of leakage by warming up the quick disconnect, which allowed the connection to “reseat” itself, thus reducing the leak to levels that met NASA’s requirements.

Furthermore, NASA teams discovered an additional leak that presented itself during the “pre-pressurization test“. The second leak was much smaller than one traced back to the quick disconnect, and according to NASA, teams were able to keep it under control to appropriate levels.

NASA has slated the next launch attempt for Artemis 1 on September 27, with the space agency giving a backup date of October 2 if September 27 isn’t achieved. In other space news, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured the clearest image of Neptune’s rings in more than thirty years. Additionally, NASA plans to crash a spacecraft directly into an asteroid located millions of miles away.

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