We are inching closer and closer to the long-awaited launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Engineers just completed another milestone test working towards seeing SLS roll out from the VAB for the first time.
NASA engineers finish second countdown test
Inside NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building, engineers conducted the second countdown test of the SLS rocket. This test checked to make sure ground software and what is known as the sequencer performed as intended.
A launch sequencer is a software program that controls the launch countdown. While humans are in the loop, the sequencer is checking to make sure everything is starting on time and performing smoothly. If something is not acting as intended, it can hold the countdown or even abort it automatically.
The sequencer would take over complete control at T-30 seconds during an actual countdown. This test concluded before that point.
Another milestone test before rollout
The countdown test was a key milestone for the SLS rocket and ground control teams before moving forward with rolling the massive rocket out of the VAB. While some more tests are still needed, the next major step will be to roll the SLS out to LC-39B on top of the historic Crawler transporter.
The journey will be slow, but it will be the first time we will see the SLS rocket on a launchpad outside of any renders. Once out at the launch site, NASA will conduct a wet dress rehearsal and then roll the rocket back to the VAB for final checkouts before the Artemis I mission launch.
NASA hoped to have already finished the wet dress rehearsal, but an issue with an engine controller delayed the timeline. An Artemis I launch is still planned for the first quarter of 2022, but I would expect that to be delayed into the summer months, following the chain of previous timeline slips.