Science

NASA announces successful test of Artemis 1 lunar mission and begins preparations for launch

Artemis 1’s last “wet dress rehearsal” wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to keep NASA’s lunar mission on track to launch in a few months.

The Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule completed the wet dress — a roughly 50-hour series of refueling tests and countdown simulations — on Monday (June 20). Mission members noticed a hydrogen leak during refuelling, but now they have decided that it is not serious enough to require repair.

“NASA has reviewed the rehearsal data and determined that the test campaign is complete. Next week, the agency will send the SLS and Orion back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy to prepare the rocket and spacecraft for launch and repair the detected leak. during the last rehearsal,” the agency wrote in today’s update. (will open in a new tab) (June 23). (“Kennedy” is NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, or KSC for short.)

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission explained in photos

“NASA plans to return the SLS and Orion to the launch pad at the end of August,” they added. “NASA will set a specific launch date after the replacement of equipment associated with the leak.”

The upcoming VAB rollback will be the second for the Artemis 1 stack. NASA removed the SLS and Orion from the KSC 39B site for repairs in late April after three separate wet-form fueling attempts were thwarted earlier in the month due to technical issues.

One of those problems was a hydrogen leak, but it was in a different location than the one that had occurred during the most recent wet clothes operations.

NASA will discuss the upcoming rollback, repairs, and launch plans at a press conference tomorrow (June 24) at 11:00 AM EDT (15:00 GMT), agency officials said in today’s update. You can watch the press conference here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA.

Artemis 1 will be the first mission of the SLS and NASA Artemis program, which aims to ensure a sustainable and long-term human presence on the Moon by the end of the 2020s. Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion on a roughly month-long trip around the Moon, potentially paving the way for the first crewed Artemis flight in 2024 and a crewed Moon landing a year or two later.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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