NASA Ready for SLS Countdown Rehearsal Ahead of Midyear Launch
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Monday announced that the first Space Launch System rocket is ready for a countdown rehearsal ahead of its maiden launch scheduled for May. NASA officials said that inspections of the giant rocket have been completed and it is now ready to be rolled out from the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building and unto the launch pad located several kilometers away, SpaceNews reported Tuesday.
When completed, the SLS will enable astronauts “to begin their journey to explore destinations far into the solar system,” NASA said on its website. However, the SLS’s initial mission will be putting Artemis 1 in space. The space agency said that this uncrewed mission will represent its first big step toward returning astronauts to the lunar surface. After several delays, Artemis 1 is expected to launch possibly sometime in June or July from Launch Complex 39B at KSC in Florida.
Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director at NASA, told reporters that the newly-completed SLS is “in good shape” and is ready to be transported to its intended launch site on March 17. With the Orion spacecraft already mounted atop it, the “mega-rocket” will spend a few weeks at the pad for tests that culminate in a practice countdown called a wet dress rehearsal.
Blackwell-Thompson explained that this test will involve filling the core stage of the rocket with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants and progresses to a simulated countdown that stops just before its four RS-25 engines ignites. It was further explained that the fuelling up of the rocket, which on the space shuttle took only two and a half hours, will take eight hours for the SLS due to its sheer size.
Tags: Charlie Blackwell-Thompson NASA space Space Launch System SpaceNews Vehicle Assembly Building