KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – NASA teams at Kennedy Space Center worked through the night Sunday into Monday morning to deliver the agency’s massive Space Launch System rocket to its launch pad, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
The moon rocket has spent the last month undergoing repairs inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center after a problem-plagued month-long testing campaign and three attempts to fill the 322-foot rocket’s core stage with liquid propellants during its critical “wet dress rehearsal.”
News 6 partner Florida Today reported it took teams about eight hours to move the rocket about four miles from the VAB to Launch Complex 39B arriving at 8:20 a.m. Monday morning.
NASA engineers are now ready to give the tanking test another go. Fixes have been made that NASA officials hope will allow another attempt to complete the fueling test before a launch now scheduled for no earlier than August, if all remains on track this time.
During the SLS’s month-long stay in its 526-foot-tall garage, ground support equipment at Kennedy Space Center was upgraded, a valve on the rocket itself was replaced, and propellant leak checks were performed.
Additionally, upgrades to the ground support equipment of an off-site supplier of the critical liquid propellants should enable a more efficient flow to the rocket mitigating an issue that twice caused previous attempts of the “wet dress rehearsal” to be scrubbed.
Upon inspection of a valve on the SLS, a minor piece of rubber debris was found and determined to be the cause of the incomplete closure of the valve. The valve was removed and replaced with a brand new one which was then tested prior to roll out.
Teams also addressed a small leak source with connections between the rocket and its Mobile Launcher platform. Bolts and joints at the connection points that can become loose over time were all retightened. Pre-roll testing conducted while inside the VAB detected no further leaks.
If all remains on schedule and Florida summer weather cooperates, NASA teams should be able to conduct a full run-through of the “wet dress rehearsal” in about two weeks.
Engineers and technicians will initiate a mock countdown sequence that is expected to last about 45 hours. The tanking test will conclude just moments before a mock ignition sequence of the rocket’s four main engines and two solid rocket boosters.
The moon rocket will then be returned to the VAB where teams will perform final checkouts and prepare for a launch attempt of the Artemis I mission that will send an uncrewed Orion capsule around the moon and back for a splashdown landing.