It’s time for the big test of NASA’s Artemis I moon mission

The 322-foot (98-meter-high) Artemis I rocket stack, including NASA’s mega space launch system and Orion spacecraft, began a wet suit rehearsal Friday afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The trial is expected to last until Sunday.

The results will determine when the uncreated Artemis I will begin its mission to go beyond the Moon and return to Earth. The mission will launch NASA’s Artemis project, which is expected to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first person on the lunar surface by 2025.

Wet dress rehearsal simulates every step of the launch without leaving the rocket launch site. These include operating the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, loading Supercold propulsion into the rocket’s tanks, launching a full countdown simulation, resetting the countdown clock and filtering the rocket tanks. ET began testing with a call to stations at 5pm on Friday and will end on Sunday evening with final countdowns.

The call to the stations, which is a check-in for every group associated with a launch, is “a big milestone because it’s time for us to call our crews, letting them know that the wet dress rehearsal test is officially underway.” Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, director of the Artemis launch of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program, told a news conference Tuesday.

A NASA Live broadcast Artemis I in the launchpad without audio commentary Noon ET launched on Friday and will be available throughout the weekend, but do not expect to see all the plays of the actual release.

The test flow includes the countdown

The team is aiming for a two-hour test window that opens at 2:40 pm on Sunday, avoiding delays caused by inclement weather or other factors. The The countdown will begin After the Sunday afternoon weather forecast, make sure all teams “go” to a fake release.

Once the rocket is loaded with 700,000 gallons (3.2 million liters) of propulsion – “wet” during wet dress rehearsal – the crew will pass all the steps to launch.

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According to the agency, “there may be some airflow during tanking, but this is about visible activity in the launchpad.

“Liquid hydrogen is 450 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 268 degrees Celsius), liquid oxygen is negative 273 (negative 169 degrees Celsius), so it’s very cold stuff,” said Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s Associate Associate Administrator for Headquarters Development. , During the press conference. “I’ll be back on this shuttle project, it’s like watching a ballet. You have pressure, volume and temperature. And you’re working on all of those parameters to make a successful tanking operation.”

Team members count to one minute and 30 seconds before launch, pause for three minutes, restart and run clockwise for 33 seconds, then pause the countdown.

Then, they will reset the clock 10 minutes before launch, go through the countdown again and finish in 9.3 seconds, igniting and launching. It simulates the launch scrubbing or stopping the missile attempt if weather or technical issues prevent a safe lift.

At the end of the test, during an actual scrub, the team expels the rocket’s propulsion.

Some steps are characterized

Artemis I went to the launch pad On March 18th. After this rehearsal, the vehicle assembly will be rolled back into the building until it is ready to start.
Updates on the progress of the test will be shared from here Artemis Blog And a NASA Twitter account. But no audio or commentary will be provided, and there will be no live media events surrounding the test. In addition, some data may be hidden for security reasons.

Milestones will be shared on NASA’s site, but details such as specific time, temperature and how long it will take to complete certain tasks are “considered important information by other countries,” Whitmeyer said. “So we have to be very careful when sharing data, especially the first time, you know.”

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That too for a reason.

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“We are, in fact, more sensitive to cryogenic launch vehicles of size and capacity, which are very similar to the ballistic type capabilities that other countries are most interested in,” Whitmeyer said. “And what they are particularly looking for is timeline flow rates, temperature, anything that can help them or other people use anything to help them do similar things.”

The complex relationship of loading impulses and the sequence of events to prevent pressure on the vehicle are specific data of particular interest, he said.

Whitmeyer stressed that the company is conservative and acts with extreme caution “especially in the context in which we are currently”.

The start of summer is expected

The space agency is expected to announce the test results on Monday.

Depending on the outcome of the wet dress rehearsal, team work may begin in June or July.

During the flight, the unmanned Orion spacecraft will be launched onto the SLS rocket and will reach the moon and travel thousands of miles – a distance that no manned spacecraft has ever traveled. The mission is expected to last a few weeks and spill down Orion into the Pacific Ocean.

Artemis I Orion will be the final proof, before the spacecraft takes astronauts to the moon 1,000 times farther from Earth than the location of the International Space Station.

After the unmanned Artemis I flight, Artemis II will fly with the Moon’s crew and send the Artemis III astronauts back to the lunar surface. Depending on the outcome of the Artemis I mission, the deadline for the start of the next mission will be set.

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