HomeAstronomy & SpaceNASA fuels moon rocket for 1st time in countdown rehearsal

NASA fuels moon rocket for 1st time in countdown rehearsal

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Despite a fuel line leak, NASA fuelled its massive moon rocket for the first time on Monday and proceeded with a critical countdown test. This was NASA’s fourth attempt at the crucial dress rehearsal, the final major step before the moon rocket’s long-awaited launch debut.

Previous attempts in April were thwarted due to a fuel leak, stuck valves, and other technical issues.

Another leak, this time in an external fuel line, nearly halted Monday’s test at Kennedy Space Centre. However, NASA officials decided to conduct the countdown test anyway.

They pushed ahead to see “how the team performed, how the hardware performed, and they both performed very well,” according to launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson.

Engineers wanted to validate all systems and procedures down to the 9-second mark—just short of engine firing. However, it was cut off at 29 seconds. According to NASA spokesman Derrol Nail, the reason for the countdown’s halt is unknown.

Engineers wanted to validate all systems and procedures down to the 9-second mark—just short of engine firing. However, it was cut off at 29 seconds. According to NASA spokesman Derrol Nail, the reason for the countdown’s halt is unknown.

NASA fuels moon rocket
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and and the Orion space capsule on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, June 18, 2022. Credit: Maxar Technologies via AP

Earlier, nearly 1 million gallons of super-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen were loaded into the Space Launch System, or SLS, a 322-foot (98-meter) rocket.

Delays in testing have pushed the actual launch, which will involve an empty Orion capsule flying around the moon and back, to the end of August at the earliest. This test flight is critical before astronauts aboard the spacecraft.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and and the Orion space capsule on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, June 18, 2022. Credit: Maxar Technologies via AP

According to Blackwell-Thompson, it is too early to predict what NASA’s next step will be.

The second SLS mission, scheduled for 2024, would take a crew around the moon and back. The third mission, which would take place no later than 2025, would involve astronauts landing on the moon.

During NASA’s Apollo programme in 1972, astronauts last walked on the moon. Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, is the name of the new programme.

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