After a month of sitting out on LC-39B, NASA’s first Space Launch System Moon rocket will be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building after failing to finish its Wet Dress Rehearsal three times. NASA will fix the faulty equipment and roll the rocket back out for another attempt.
Hard lessions learned for the first of its kind rocket
No one expected smooth testing for NASA’s first SLS rocket. However, it is still disappointing to see major setbacks for a highly anticipated rocket. In total, NASA attempted three times to conduct the WDR or a modified version of it, and each time different issues caused teams to scrub.
The last two issues are NASA’s most significant reasons to roll the entire rocket back to the VAB. The first issue to be fixed will be a valve in the SLS’s upper stage, called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, which was built by ULA. This caused NASA to modify its WDR procedures not to fuel the ICPS. Last Thursday, a hydrogen leak was found on the Tail Service Mast Umbilical, one of the many connections between the rocket and Mobile Launcher.
Over the weekend, NASA decided it would be best to roll back the rocket instead of attempting another modified WDR. At first, NASA tried to play it off by stating it would give a contractor time to make some upgrades to some ground systems, but during Monday’s press conference, SLS managers were focused on repairing the faulty equipment and getting back out there for a full WDR like initially attended.
No word on future timelines
While higher-up NASA officials seem destined Artemis I, SLS’s first launch, will still take place sometime this summer. SLS managers have no timeline for when repairs will be completed and when the next rollout and WDR will occur.
That isn’t a good sign, as that usually indicates long delays. An SLS launch is still possible for 2022, maybe late summer or in the fall, but without a timeline from NASA, only a perpetual TBD can be given for Artemis I’s launch date.
Featured Image: Jared Locke / Space Explored