NASA chooses to fix the SLS Megarocket hydrogen leak on the launch pad

SLS on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SLS on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
picture: NASA

NASA is preparing to replace the faulty seal linked to the hydrogen leak that led to the SLS’ second launch attempt on Saturday. Repairs will take place at the launch pad, which is ideal from a testing perspective, but NASA still needs to return the jumbo rocket to the assembly building to meet safety requirements.

Technicians will replace the seal on the quick disconnect, An interface connecting the liquid hydrogen fuel line on the mobile launcher to a core stage of the Space Launch System, according to a NASA briefing. statement. The teams will also check the sheet coverings on the other navel to rule out this Hydrogen leaks at those sites. “With seven main lines in the umbilical cord, each line may have multiple points of contact,” NASA explained.

NASA is attempting an unmanned mission to the moon and back, in preparation for a human landing on the moon later this decade. but dDuring the early stages of start trying On September 3, an unintended command briefly raised pressure within the system, potentially damaging some components. Caused by an uncontrollable hydrogen leak cleaning– Second in a week. the earliest The scrub, on Monday, August 29, also marred a hydrogen leak, although engineers managed to solve it. In the end, it was a file faulty sensor Convicted First try launch.

The unmanned SLS rocket remains in a secure configuration, standing tall on Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA seeks to launch Artemis mission 1The rocket will send an unmanned Orion spacecraft on a flight Moon and back. The first launch period, which ran from August 23 to September 6, has ended, bringing work to a halt. The space agency must now prepare 322 feet (98 meters) for the third Artemis 1 missile launch attempt, the date of which has not yet been announced.

Technicians plan to create a temporary enclosure around the missile base to protect the instruments from Florida weather. The benefit of working directly on the pad is that engineers will be able to test the repair under extreme cooling conditions. During preparations for release, liquid hydrogen is pumped through the system at frigid temperatures of -423 degrees Fahrenheit (-253 degrees Celsius). This, in addition to the additional high pressure, has the effect of shrinkage and warping of the components, which can lead to unwanted and dangerous leaks, Especially about seals.

as a propellant, Hydrogen is effective but hard to control. Hydrogen leaks were a very frequent source of scrubs during the space shuttle era, and now the SLS, which is Likewise powered by a mixture of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygenHe appears to be experiencing the same technical difficulties.

Think Engineers Return SLS to nearby Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for required repairs But she chose instead to work on the painting. The VAB would have provided a more controlled environment to operate in, but without the ability to replicate the cryogenic conditions desired for testing (tests must be performed inside the VAB at ambient temperatures). “Performing work on the panel also allows teams to collect as much data as possible to understand the cause of the problem,” NASA added.

SLS will likely revert to VAB, repaired or not repaired. Eastern Range, a branch of the US Space Force, requires periodic certification of the missile’s flight termination system. NASA has already received a waiver that extends the certification from 20 to 25 days, but it’s not clear if the space agency will request a second waiver, which would be irregular. The eastern range oversees launches from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and works to ensure the safety of the public.

At a press conference on Saturday, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said, “It’s not our decision – it’s Range’s decision.” He added that a waiver of range could keep the missile on the platform, “but this is unlikely.” So, under eastern range limitations, until we hear otherwise from NASA about the second assignment, the rocket Should Return to VAB before the next launch period.

A third launch attempt in late September or early October is still a remote possibility. The next period starts on September 19 and ends on October 4, with no chances of releasing on September 29 and 30. For this to work, NASA would have to complete the latest repairs, run tests, return the SLS to the VAB for re-certification (which includes a very short confidence test), and then return it to the launch pad. It is possible, but the ground teams will have to pull the stern to make it happen.

Failing that, the third launch period opens on October 17 and ends on October 31, with the exceptions of launches on October 24, 25, 26 and 28. There are two other periods, one in November and one in December, during the current calendar year.

There is still plenty of time to launch the SLS in 2022, but it all depends on how quickly the engineers get to grips with this complex system. The SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA and he A major component of the space agency Artemis programwhich seeks a sustainable and long-term human presence on and around the Moon.

more: What to know about Moon Gate, NASA’s future lunar orbit space station.

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