The crucial test, known as the wet dress rehearsal, simulates every stage of the launch without the rocket leaving the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
This process includes loading supercold propellant, performing a full launch-simulating countdown, resetting the countdown clock, and draining the rocket’s fuel tanks.
The results of the dress rehearsal will determine when the uncrewed Artemis I embarks on a mission that will go beyond the moon and back to Earth. This mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to return humans to the Moon and land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface by 2025.
Three previous attempts at a wet dress rehearsal in April failed, ending before the rocket could be fully loaded with propellant due to various leaks, which NASA says have since been fixed.
Rehearsal in a wet suit: what to expect
The Artemis rocket will begin its next attempt during the wet dress rehearsal on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. with a “call to stations”, when all teams associated with the mission signal that they are ready for the start of the test.
Preparations for the weekend will allow the Artemis team to begin loading propellant into the rocket’s core and upper stages on Monday, June 20.
A two-hour test window will begin in the afternoon, with the Artemis team targeting the first countdown at 2:40 p.m. ET.
First, they will go through a countdown up to 33 seconds before launch, then stop the cycle. The clock will reset, then the countdown will resume and run until approximately 10 seconds before a launch occurs.
Previous attempts at a wetsuit rehearsal have already achieved many of the goals on the list to prepare the rocket for launch, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program, said during an interview. a press conference on Wednesday.
“We hope to complete them this time around and get through the cryogenic loading operations as well as the terminal count,” she said. “Our team is ready to go and we can’t wait to get back to this test.”
After the Artemis rocket stack completes its dress rehearsal, it will return to the Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to await launch day.
There’s a long history behind the arduous process of testing new systems before launching a rocket, and what the Artemis team faces is similar to what Apollo and shuttle-era teams faced. experienced, including multiple test attempts and delays before launch.
“There is not a single person on the team who avoids the responsibility that we have to manage ourselves and our contractors and deliver, and delivering means meeting those flight test goals for (Artemis I ), and achieve the goals of the Artemis I program,” Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Missions Directorate, said at the press conference.