“We’re not ready to let go” of the June launch window, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday.
On Monday, NASA made its second attempt at what it called a rehearsal, which simulates each stage of a launch without the rocket actually emerging from the launch pad. The rehearsal is a critical step in the first phase of NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first people of color on the moon by 2025.
Charlie Blackwell Thompson, Artemis launch manager for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program, said the test was halted Monday before it was completed due to a problem with a panel on the mobile launcher that controls the primary stage relief valve. The valve relieves pressure from the rocket’s primary stage while conducting a tank of propellant, according to NASA.
The team tried to solve the problem by trying the primary and secondary valves, but they weren’t able to fix it.
Blackwell-Thompson said that because of the time of day, officials decided to halt operations until the team could look at the board.
“This was a test, and the purpose of the test was to fully understand our systems in launch day configuration,” she said. “Our team has accomplished a lot.”
No word yet on the next attempt at wet rehearsal But Sarraf said he expects it “in a short time”.
The test was originally scheduled to be completed on Sunday, but was suspended before the propellant was loaded. This was due to problems with two propellers used to pressurize the mobile launcher – the movable turret on which the rocket would sit before taking off.
NASA said Monday that it was able to solve a malfunction of the propellers, which are needed to compress sealed areas inside a rocket launcher and keep out dangerous gases.
The results of training in wet clothes will determine when Artemis I will embark on a mission beyond the Moon and back to Earth.
During the flight, the unmanned Orion spacecraft will blast above an SLS rocket to reach the moon and travel thousands of miles behind it — farther than any spacecraft intended to carry humans has traveled. This mission is expected to last a few weeks and will end with Orion spray in the Pacific Ocean.
Artemis I will be Orion’s final testing ground before the spacecraft carries astronauts to the Moon, 1,000 times more Earth-bound than the International Space Station site.
After the uncrewed Artemis I flight, Artemis II will be a lunar flight, and Artemis III will return astronauts to the lunar surface. The launch schedule for subsequent missions depends on the results of the Artemis I mission.
CNN’s Katie Hunt and Ashley Strickland contributed to this report.
“Hipster-friendly troublemaker. Communicator. Organizer. Devoted web lover. Unapologetic problem solver. Reader. Explorer. Travel guru.”