NASA plans mid-June for next Artemis wet dress rehearsal

Engineers completed work on items found in previous testing, NASA says

FILE - The NASA Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building moving slowly on an 11-hour journey to pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, March 17, 2022. The flight debut of NASA's new mega moon rocket faces additional delays, following a series of failed fueling tests, officials said Monday, April 18, 2022. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) (John Raoux, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A trio of NASA’s top people participated in a teleconference Friday to talk about the status of the next wet dress rehearsal of the Space Launch System (SLS), the agency’s moon rocket, at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA is targeting June 6 for the next rollout to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the next dress rehearsal, with cryo flow taking place no earlier than June 19. Officials are building weather days into the process, since it will be in the middle of the rainy season in Florida.

After the last test was stopped due to a leak discovered while loading the rocket with fuel, engineers have since completed work on issues found during previous tests, according to a news release. This included the replacement of an upper stage helium check valve identified as nonfunctioning in April, as well as a repair to “a small leak within the tail service mast umbilical ground plate housing,” the release said.

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The upcoming Artemis I wet dress rehearsal will involve the loading of the rocket with propellant and a full launch countdown before NASA recycles the countdown clock and drains the tanks. In general, in addition to helping engineers identify and fix problems while the rocket is still on the ground, the test gives NASA practice with launch timelines and procedures.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told a lunchroom full of students at Ventura Elementary School in Kissimmee that they could go to the moon on NASA’s next rocket heading that way when it launches from the Space Coast, eventually.

Earlier this month, NASA targeted early to mid-June for the final pre-launch test, and it will not determine an actual launch date until a wet dress rehearsal goes well.

The conference included John Blevins, chief engineer on the SLS program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager of the Exploration Ground Systems Program at KSC, and Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C.

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Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.