NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket passed a critical cryogenic tanking test Wednesday (Sept. 21). Ground teams loaded more than 700,000 gallons of propellant at temperatures reaching -423 degrees Fahrenheit (-217 degrees Celsius) into the 321-foot-tall (98-meter) megarocket. The terminal count phase of the countdown and powering the Orion spacecraft and side boosters, were not included in Wednesday’s test.”All of the objectives that we set out to do we were able to accomplish today,” Artemis launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, with the Exploration Ground Systems Program at KSC, said. However, during test, the leak at the quick disconnect popped up again as the liquid-hydrogen loaded but the team managed to troubleshoot it. A different smaller hydrogen leak occurred during a “pre-pressurization test.” The team was able to keep it under control.
NASA will need to review test’s results and decide how to move forward. Another thing is important. The U.S. Space Force, which oversees the Eastern Range for rocket launches, certified Artemis 1’s FTS for 25 days, and that time is now up. If a waiver will not be granted rocket will have to be rolled from Pad 39B back to KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building, the only place where recertification can occur. If all goes well the next launch date will be Sept. 27. Artemis 1 mission is about an uncrewed Orion capsule on journey to the Moon and back, as a first step for a sustainable and sustained presence in the lunar environment in the years to come.