Washington (AFP) June 21, 2022 NASA's fourth attempt to complete a critical test of its Moon rocket...
NASA's fourth attempt to complete a critical test of its Moon rocket achieved around 90 percent of its goals, but there's still no firm date for the behemoth's first flight, officials said Tuesday.
Known as the "Wet dress rehearsal" because it involves loading liquid propellant, it is the final item to cross off the checklist before the Artemis-1 mission slated for this summer: an uncrewed lunar flight that will eventually be followed by Moon boots on the ground, likely no sooner than 2026.
Their objectives were to load propellant into the rocket's tanks, conduct a launch countdown and simulate contingency scenarios, then drain the tanks.
Three previous bids, starting in March, were plagued by glitches and failed to fuel up the rocket with hundreds of thousands of gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
With the Orion crew capsule fixed on top, the Space Launch System Block 1 stands 322 feet high - taller than the Statue of Liberty, but a little smaller than the 363 feet Saturn V rockets that powered the Apollo missions to the Moon.
Artemis-1 is set to journey around the far side of the Moon sometime this summer on a test flight.
Artemis-2 will be the first crewed test, flying around the Moon but not landing, while Artemis-3 will see the first woman and first person of color touch down on the lunar south pole.
NASA wants to build a permanent presence on the Moon, and use it as a proving ground for technologies necessary for a Mars mission, sometime in the 2030s.
NASA's fourth attempt Monday to complete a practice launch day exercise for its huge uncrewed moon rocket Artemis 1 was deemed a success at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Crews were able to fully load the rocket with super-cold liquid hydrogen propellent and successfully reach the "Terminal count" phase for the first time before the countdown was automatically paused at T-minus 29 seconds.