CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WHNT) – NASA officials have announced new potential dates for the launch of Artemis I. They hope to make another attempt by the end of the month.
Artemis mission managers held a briefing Thursday morning to provide an update on where crews are in fixing an issue with a liquid hydrogen fuel feed line where it connects to the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage. A hydrogen leak at this spot caused NASA to scrub their Sept. 2 launch attempt and completely cancel the one scheduled for Sept. 5.
“Our requested dates we put on yesterday were the 23rd of September and the 27th of September,” Associate Administrator Jim Free said during the briefing. “We’re trying to work with other NASA programs and obviously other users on the range, as well.”
If the launch happens on Sept. 23 the window will open at 5:47 a.m. and last about 80 minutes with the Orion spacecraft returning to Earth on October 18.
A Sept. 27 launch will see a 70-minute launch window opening at 10:37 a.m. with the mission lasting until November 5.
However, a potential launch requires two things to happen first. First, the Eastern Range must approve NASA’s request to stay out on the launch pad past the 25 days it has currently certified the flight termination system. If they do not receive that approval, the rocket will need to be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to reset the system’s batteries.
Second, engineers must fix both the 8-inch line and 4-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the SLS core stage. Those fixes must go through a tanking test at the launch pad with the super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuels.
That test is scheduled for Sept. 17 but Free said the test could be pushed back if crews need more time to repair the lines.
As an extra precaution, the launch team plans “a kindler and gentler approach to tanking” during the final phase of the countdown, slowing the flow of fuel at times to reduce stress on the seals, according to Exploration Ground Systems Program Manager Mike Bolger.
Liquid hydrogen leaks between the Mobile Launch have plagued NASA through their wet dress rehearsals and previous launch attempts.