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NASA has ‘successful’ Artemis fueling test, ‘extremely encouraged’ for launch

Artemis I leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building as it rolls out to launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)
September 23, 2022

NASA successfully fueled its Artemis rocket on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center leaving the mission launch director “extremely encouraged” about the possibility of a launch. It could come on the next scheduled launch day of Sept. 27 if no more issues emerge with the rocket or the weather.

Wednesday’s test was not flawless. NASA encountered another liquid hydrogen fuel leak around a plate at the point where the fuel enters the rocket. But Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said fueling crews backed off the pressure and used their new “kinder, gentler” fueling approach for dealing with these repeating leaks. The process was “successful,” Blackwell-Thompson said, “and we did not see the same effect.”

“As we raised the pressure we actually saw the leak go down,” Blackwell-Thompson added.

Blackwell-Thompson said she felt “wonderful” and “extremely encouraged” after the test that NASA said achieved all of its objectives. But she wouldn’t “get ahead of the data” Wednesday and predict a launch attempt. “We’ll take the data and look at it,” she said.

NASA is trying for the first test flight of the rocket design it plans to use to carry American astronauts back to the moon. The first flight will not carry a crew to and around the moon. Instead, the mission is designed to test the booster, the flight plan, the new Orion capsule heat shield and the maneuvers needed for Orion to make the journey around the moon and safely back.

NASA has canceled two earlier launch attempts because of the fuel leak problem.


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