In a media briefing Friday, NASA announced that they will attempt its next wet dress rehearsal for the Space Launch System (SLS) in just over two weeks. All of this will begin when the massive rocket begins its rollout as soon as June 6.
“Call to stations” for the rollout of NASA’s SLS Moon rocket is set for the evening of June 5. This is when NASA employees and contractors are on-site and ready to support the rollout. Rollout of the SLS rocket from the Vehicle Assembly Building to LC-39B will begin around midnight on June 6. The late-night operations hope to lessen the risk of thunderstorms affecting the rollout’s schedule. However, rollout will be reliant on local weather conditions.
SLS valve and hydrogen leak fixed
NASA seems confident that teams have fixed the issues that plagued the first three wet dress rehearsals last month. During its time in the VAB, teams have tightened flange bolts that were believed to be the cause of the hydrogen leaks and replaced a helium check valve in the upper stage.
Alongside fixing issues found with the rocket during its tests, AirLiquide, which operates the gas distribution system at Kennedy Space Center, upgraded its system at 39B. With the fixes and upgrades in place, NASA is ready to begin the next SLS wet dress rehearsal to certify this rocket for flight, hopefully.
SLS’ wet dress rehearsal begins with rollout. Where the rocket will be placed on the historic crawler transporters used to move the Saturn V and Space Shuttle rockets and moved to LC-39B. This will take several hours and be another good time for NASA teams to get experience with this operation, as it is similar to trying to move a 26+ story building. The rocket is also very vulnerable during this time, not having the protection of the VAB or the lightning towers at LC-39B.
The Space Shuttle took about six and half hours to rollout. During SLS’ first rollout, it took 10 hours and 28 minutes. So be sure to get comfortable while watching coverage of the event.
A successful wet dress rehearsal is the final big test for NASA’s newest rocket to be cleared for takeoff. This test will see SLS’ first and second stage fuel tanks filled with liquid oxygen and hydrogen, which we’ve already seen on the first but not the second. At the same time, teams in the launch control room will begin a mock countdown. The rehearsal will also include preparing the rocket for launch but ending just before T-0.
NASA initially hoped to have already cleared this hurdle and have begun getting the rocket ready for launch this summer. However, several problems arose, which had to be fixed. Now NASA won’t give any concrete dates for launches of Artemis I, SLS’s uncrewed first flight. However, if all goes to plan with this next wet dress rehearsal, SLS could launch by the end of summer.
Featured Image: Jared Locke / Space Explored