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posted by janrinok on Sunday April 03, @11:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

NASA's big rocket faces its last test before launching:

After two weeks of preparatory work on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, NASA is ready to put its large new rocket and its complex plumbing system to the test. This will be the final major rehearsal before the space agency declares that, after 11 long years and tens of billions of dollars in development costs, the Space Launch System is finally ready to fly.

The "wet dress rehearsal" is slated to begin at 5 pm ET (21:00 UTC) on Friday, when the launch control teams will arrive on console at the Launch Control Center. At that point, engineers and technicians will begin to power up the Orion spacecraft and the rocket itself. But the real action will not take place until Sunday.

At around 6 am ET, a team from NASA and the launch vehicle's contractors will enter a "launch day" countdown; shortly thereafter, they will start to fuel the rocket's core stage with liquid oxygen. The loading of liquid hydrogen will begin about an hour later. NASA has posted a tentative schedule with key milestones on its website.

After a series of holds, NASA plans to resume its countdown toward launch at 2:30 pm ET on Sunday and continue until about T-10 seconds, with the test ending before igniting the rocket's four main engines, which once powered NASA's space shuttle. If all goes well, the test will wrap up by around 5 pm on Sunday.

[...] So will all go well? During a call with reporters on Tuesday, senior NASA officials seemed fairly confident that the wet dress test would go off smoothly. However, they acknowledged that this is the first time the entire rocket and spacecraft will be handled and fueled in concert with its ground systems and the extensive software to manage it all. So yes, they acknowledged, things could go wrong.

About a week after the test is complete, NASA officials said they expect to be able to set a launch date for the Artemis 1 mission, which will fly an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the Moon. Presently, this test flight will happen no earlier than June.

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NASA Finally Succeeds With its Artemis 1 Wet Launch Test 6 comments

NASA finally succeeds with its Artemis 1 wet launch test:

NASA encountered a couple of issues while conducting the Artemis 1 "wet dress rehearsal," but it still checked off a major milestone by the time the test had ended. The agency was able to fully fuel all the Space Launch System's propellant tanks for the first time and was able to proceed to terminal launch countdown. [...]

This attempt wasn't flawless either: NASA had to put fueling on hold a couple of times since the rehearsal started on Saturday. Fueling was first put on hold on early Monday morning due to an issue with the rocket's backup supply of gaseous nitrogen. The team was able to repair the valve for the gaseous nitrogen line, however, and fueling recommenced a couple of hours later. As CNN notes, though, a few issues popped up just as the team was finishing up the fueling process on Monday afternoon. They discovered a hydrogen leak and had to find options to seal it after their first solution didn't work. Plus, the flare stack, which burns excess liquid hydrogen from the rocket, caused a small fire in the grassy area around the launch site.

In the end, the launch controllers came up with a plan to mask data associated with the leak so as not trigger a hold by the launch computer. That wouldn't fly in a real launch scenario, but they wanted to get as far into the countdown as possible to gather the data they need. They were successfully able to resume the 10-minute final launch countdown after an extended hold and got to T-29 seconds before they had to end the test completely. [...]

Regardless, they successfully performed several critical operations needed for launch during the test, including handing over control from the ground launch sequencer to the automated launch sequencer controlled by the rocket's flight software.

    Space Launch System Test Delayed for Weeks After Three Failed Attempts
    Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Now Scheduled to Begin April 12
    NASA's Big Rocket Faces its Last Test Before Launching

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @01:06AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @01:06AM (#1234649)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @01:13AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @01:13AM (#1234652)

      A happy ending. For now.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @06:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @06:01AM (#1234695)

        Any ending is happy, that does not end in a big badda-boom! Testing has a reason, and the reason is to stop things when problems are discovered. SpaceX follows the same protocols, but they tend to go all the way to the big badda-boom, which makes livertarian incels love them more.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @01:43AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @01:43AM (#1234655)

    SLS is ,,,. yeah.

    Fuck Musk, but SLS is dead wood.

    I doubt anything better from the defense contractors - it's a systemic structural problem where the defense contractors feed off the government teats via lobbying.

    Space X needs competition, but SLS is a loser even if the launch is successful.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @02:17AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @02:17AM (#1234661)

      Sorry, but I tend to put anti-SLS in the same category as anti-vaxxers. A looser even if it wins? Doesn't make sense. I don't understand the animus. Is this a takyon thing, or a khallow thing?

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday April 04, @03:03AM (1 child)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 04, @03:03AM (#1234672) Journal
        It's a continuation of a paradigm of space exploration that's been failing since the Space Shuttle. Build a huge rocket and then try to find something to do with it for the paltry budget you have left.
        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @04:26AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @04:26AM (#1234682)

          Definitely, then, a khallow thing, what with the body types, and leftover "rocket". OK, message recieved, Captain khallow to ground control, ' ' '

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @12:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @12:09PM (#1234736)

        A looser even if it wins?

        I think SpaceX actually has more of a looser rocket than SLS. SLS is actually less of a looser rocket since it has solid rocket boosters. It's still a loser economically, but definitely more on the firm side of things.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 04, @02:24PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 04, @02:24PM (#1234758) Journal

        I don't understand the animus.

        • It is a huge waste of money.
        • It has taken so long it has outlived its practicality.
        • It is unsustainable. $4 Billion per launch?
        • It is not competitive with modern rockets.
        • It's original reason to even exist was to use up old space shuttle parts.
        • It is the king of stupid to take an expensive ($140 million each) reusable engine and put four (4) of those on an expendable vehicle. That $560 million for just engines -- for the booster only. How much does a Falcon Heavy launch cost again? About $90 million? How much will a Starship launch cost?
        • Having congress, and certain senators, and the white house tampering and meddling in a project like this over a long period is no way to develop a rocket.

        Why do I hate SLS? Because as a taxpayer I am footing the bill for this colossal waste. There are lots of other ways the government could create a "jobs" program. We have lots of crumbling infrastructure. We could use more school teachers and less dense classrooms. (that is an investment in our future more than SLS is) What if the cost of a single SLS launch was put into incentives for EVs? Green energy?

        There are so many beneficial things that could be done with the money being wasted on SLS.

        And you ask why the animus? Personally, I think the best thing that could happen for taxpayers is if SLS were to blow up on the pad during testing, taking all of its launch infrastructure with it. I say that as a taxpayer.

        I had some thoughts about lasers, but they were incoherent.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @06:27PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @06:27PM (#1234822)

          Keeping that $4B/y in the Artemis project would fund a really nice moon base. Just saying.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @05:23AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @05:23AM (#1234685)

      SLS is a monument to corruption and incompetence, and the biggest beneficiary is Boeing. I don't think that's a coincidence.

      I like SpaceX because they are actively helping others to do things in space, but I do agree that they need some real competition. Rocket Lab are actually trying, and I think they have the chops to do it if they can get enough support for Neutron. Beyond them, maybe Firefly or Relativity. ULA would be if Tory didn't have his hands tied behind his back by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. I don't hold much hope for any of the others.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @12:16PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @12:16PM (#1234737)

        SLS is foodstamps program for the rich and the educated that were previously employed in the Space Shuttle program and lost their jobs. But TBH, SLS was the only thing in town before SpaceX was viable and the only thing in town that is "competition" for SpaceX. And I'm being loose on the definition here. But whatever the situation, it's not a good idea for NASA to rely on Roscosmos anymore.

        Anyway, keep in mind that most of the money spent on SLS actually stays in America so it's not all as bad as it sounds. Though if Starship succeeds, I don't expect SLS to remain funded for next 2 decades.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @06:44PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @06:44PM (#1234827)

          SLS is a food stamp program for Boeing and Lockheed Martin executives and their pets in Congress. Claiming 'jobs' is just an excuse to make it palatable to the public. Those people could just as easily be gainfully employed doing useful work.

          SpaceX has been viable since 2010, when the Falcon 9 went into service. SLS started development in 2011.

          SLS does nothing about NASA's reliance on Roscosomos. Dragon and Cygnus spacecraft do that.

          That's money that could all stay in America while actually doing something useful. The engineers building it could also be better employed doing actually useful work.

          Never underestimate Congress' love of pork. SLS always gets more money than NASA asks for, but there is never enough for moon suits. Full funding for a lander only started this year.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @12:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, @12:06PM (#1234735)

    i am hoping for a good landing.
    man, tax-payer-provided dollars divided by (single) flight time ..." oohh-weeeh" to quote mr. popypants.