NASA will not repeat the SLS Launch Rehearsal

NASA management has decided not to re-rehearse the launch of the SLS rocket. This means that after the inspection and elimination of technical malfunctions, engineers will begin to prepare the superheavy carrier for a flight to the moon.

Mobile launch platform with SLS rocket. Source: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography

The fourth SLS launch dress rehearsal was held on June 20 (the three previous tests took place in April and were not completed due to various problems). This time, the engineers managed to fully refuel the rocket. Unfortunately, during the test, there was another fly in the ointment, in the form of a new hydrogen leak. 

However, since the leak itself did not pose an immediate danger to the test, the test managers decided to continue it and conduct a rehearsal of the pre-launch countdown. To do this, they “hid” data about the leak from ground systems. As a result, the test was brought to the moment of transfer of control to the onboard computer of the rocket, which stopped the pre-launch countdown. According to the engineers, in total they managed to fulfill about 90% of all set goals.

After analyzing the test results, NASA management decided not to hold another SLS launch rehearsal and start preparing the carrier for a flight to the Moon. After repairing the leaky connection, the remaining payload will be installed on it (in addition to the Orion spacecraft, it will launch an entire flotilla of cubesats into space), as well as an emergency flight termination system that will undermine the rocket in case of loss of control. 

According to reports, NASA hopes to launch the SLS in August. During the specified period, the launch window for the flight to the Moon will be open from July 26 to August 10 (except August 1, 2 and 6), as well as from August 23 to September 6 (except August 30 and 31 and September 1).

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