NASA said on Wednesday it had successfully trialled the fueling process for its new moon rocket.
NASA said Wednesday it had successfully trialled the fueling process for its new rocket after technical problems halted two attempts a few weeks ago to get the behemoth off the ground and headed for the moon.
“We were able to achieve all the goals we set out to achieve today,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, launch director of the Artemis 1 program.
The unmanned mission hopes to test the new 30-story SLS rocket, as well as the unmanned Orion capsule on it, in preparation for future lunar journeys with humans on board.
The latest attempt in early September to launch NASA’s most powerful rocket yet had to be aborted due to a leak while the cryogenic fuels — liquid hydrogen and oxygen — were pumped into the rocket’s tanks.
Repairs were made and Wednesday’s test involved refilling those tanks.
Although a small hydrogen leak was detected during the test, NASA engineers were able to get it under control.
Last week, NASA said it is now targeting September 27 as the next launch date. October 2 was set as the backup date.
“Teams will evaluate the data from the test, along with weather and other factors, before confirming they are ready to move on to the next launch opportunity,” NASA said.
Asked about the timing of the next launch attempt, Blackwell-Thompson declined to comment, though she said she was “extremely encouraged by today’s test”.
US officials are also closely monitoring Hurricane Fiona’s trajectory off the Atlantic coast.
To allow for the Sept. 27 date, NASA must get a waiver to prevent the batteries from being retested on a detonation system used to destroy the missile if it goes off course uncontrollably.
The next mission, Artemis 2, would take astronauts to the moon without landing on the surface, while the third — scheduled for the mid-2020s — would see the first woman and person of color on lunar soil.
NASA wants to build a lunar space station called Gateway and maintain a sustained presence on the moon to gain insight into how to survive very long space missions, ahead of a mission to Mars in the 2030s.