According to a recent statement by the NASAthe rocket Space Launch System (SLS) intended to launch the mission Artemis 1 not going to leave the launch pad yet. The rocket was supposed to take off on Saturday September 3, but a hydrogen leak has been detected and could not be repaired in time. The flight was thus canceled and the rocket is waiting for the engineers of the American space agency to solve the problem.
According to information, the leak is appeared at the “quick disconnect” interface which joins the rocket and the refueling system of the mobile launch tower. After investigating the problem, the Artemis 1 team decided to replace the seal on the interface.
This replacement work will be carried out on the launch pad Kennedy Space Center Pad 39B. The rocket has already been there for 3 weeks now.
Repair the rocket on the launch pad
In an update on the situation of Artemis 1 published on September 6, we can read that carrying out the repair work directly on the ramp will require the establishment of an enclosure. This will surround the work area and help protect the equipment from inclement weather and other environmental conditions. This enclosure will also allow engineers to test repairs under cryogenic conditionsi.e. at extremely low temperatures.
Agency officials added that carrying out the repair work on the ramp helps to collect as much data as possible to understand the cause of the problem. They do not, however, rule out a return of the rocket to the VAB or Vehicle Assembly Building to perform additional work that does not require cryogenic facilities. These are only accessible on the launch pad.
A return to the inevitable hangar?
Even if all the repairs can be done on the launch pad, NASA might still have to take the SLS rocket back to the hangar. In effect, US Space Force certified self-destruct system (FTS) of Artemis 1 for only 25 days. This system is used to destroy the vehicle in the event that it deviates from its trajectory during launch, and the expiry date for using the system will have passed when the next launch window opens.
Re-certification will require FTS testing, and this process can only be done in the VAB. According to NASA officials, they might be considering request another waiver to extend the certification period. This will allow the SLS rocket to stay on the launch pad longer.
Let’s wait to see the result of the repairs on the Space Launch System. The next Artemis 1 launch window will open on September 19 and close on October 4. After that, it will be necessary to wait for the period from October 17 to October 31.