After an issue caused a scrub on Sunday, NASA planned to finish the Artemis moon rocket tanking test at Kennedy Space Center, but a new valve issue forced mission management to put it off once more.
When the fully integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule tanking test at KSC’s Launch Pad 39-B couldn’t maintain the mobile launcher on which the gear sits securely pressurized, NASA officials called it a day. The problem was resolved overnight, but Monday’s redo attempt fell short of its target of loading and draining 730,000 gallons of super-cooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the rocket’s core and upper stages.
NASA Plans To Launch Moon Rocket In June
NASA crew was able to work past several obstacles to load the liquid oxygen (LOX), but were finally blocked before loading the liquid hydrogen by a vent valve that delivered pressure to the core stage of the rocket, which was also placed on the mobile launcher. The weekend delay had set off a chain reaction, causing the Axiom Space civilian launch to the International Space Station to be postponed until Friday.
The four passengers aboard the Axiom, three of whom paid $55 million apiece and one of whom is a veteran NASA astronaut, are still quarantined at KSC ahead of their planned Ax-1 10-day journey.
The Ax-1 crew expects to stay on board for eight days, doing scores of science experiments and taking in the scenery, but they must go by March 20 to make way for NASA’s Crew-4 mission.
Meanwhile, officials will examine the data from the tanking test before launching the uncrewed Artemis to the moon. After the tanking test, the rocket will be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. After which, NASA will determine a target launch window based on any difficulties discovered during the test. June 6-16 and June 29-July 12 were previously suggested as probable launch dates.