NASA has started the fuel test at 13:15 Spanish peninsular hours from the Kennedy Space Center (Florida). After two attempts, it appears that the space agency has started its Artemis I mission.
After checking if the repairs from the previous tests were in good condition, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson (Artemis launch manager) gave the go-ahead to officially start loading thrusters on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the cryogenic demonstration test.
Storage operations began with the liquid oxygen transfer line cooling of the center stage. Therefore, after cooling the liquid oxygen (LOX) lines, the teams gave green light to slow fill phase to load the central stage of the rocket, in addition, they will cool the liquid hydrogen (LH2) transfer line.
Once the LOX fill has been completed, NASA has moved on to fast fill operations. When the cooling of LH2 has finished, there has been start to slow filling of liquid hydrogen.
The entire process had been carried out without any setbacks, but in this last step the test began to fail. According to a NASA statement, “launch controllers have detected a hydrogen leak in a cavity in the umbilical tail service mast”.
The agency explained that the team “has let the propellant flow into the rocket while they fix the problem.” Engineers have now heated up the quick disconnect or interface where the fuel feed line connects to the SLS and after fixing the problem they have put it back and have continued with the test successfully.
After doing this, the engineers have started the purge of the engine which will start to flow LH2 at a reduced pressure. NASA has reported that, while this is happening, the team continues to monitor the area where the hydrogen leak has been detected.
In addition, the agency has claimed that engineers have already completed the engine bleed test, which flows into supercold LH2. In this way, they have lowered the temperature of the four RS-25 engines to the conditions required for launch.
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