NASA has tested a rocket that will take off as part of the Artemis program and problems have been found!

19/12/2021
Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

Update: The launch is schedued for 12 February 2022. 

News! NASA has announced that the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft are currently being tested in the vehicle building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft will take off early next year as part of the Artemis mission. NASA engineers have conducted several tests on the rocket and the system to make sure they are ready for launch. They even positioned them on top of each other (Orion over the launch system). The best news from these tests is that NASA has even tested to see if the Orion rocket can communicate with NASA's ground system.  In addition, all the components of the missile were checked, the systems were checked and so far, everything is going according to plan. NASA engineers also tested whether Orion rocket systems could connect during launch to the launch control console and everything went smoothly. 

Unfortunately, the engineers also found problems with one of the flight controllers of the RS-25 engine, according to a report given by NASA. To give you a better idea, the engine controller is the one who gives the commands, like a kind of "brain", and there were problems with it. And if they were found there, that means the whole engine can't work! The controller is also the one that communicates with the NASA ground system, so the system can calibrate it and many other things. So if the engine is not working, then it will not be able to communicate with the NASA ground system. In short, the ship cannot take off if that controller is not repaired in time. 

But don't think that NASA didn't think of that. The missile controller has two channels, if one does not work, then the other should go to the backup. At this issue, NASA engineers found that only one channel was not working, and the other was working fine. This is channel B from the ship's engine controller 4, which could not be pronounced constantly. 

NASA and the main contractor for RS-25 engines, Aerojet Rocketdyne, works and tests all components almost weekly and tries to see if there are any irregularities. In the first test that was at the beginning of this year, all the tests went perfectly in the Green Run test, but now it turns out that one of the channels is still not working well. The decision of the engineers after this problem is short and simple: the whole controller must be replaced. So NASA needs to replace the controller, because most likely channel B will not be able to be restored to what it was before, until launch. But engineers continue to investigate and see the root cause of this. 

Thus, after NASA makes a plan to replace the controller, it will have to see which is the best launch date in March or April. But there are still many tests to be done. For example, testing to verify the cryogenic propulsion stage, and in parallel, the amplification of the amplifiers will be done. NASA is taking these tests seriously, including the countdown test that will be started by NASA next week (a little early). There will also be final tests where all the system and components will be checked. But the test that will decide a fixed launch date is the wet rehearsal test at the historic launch complex 39B. After the test is successful, NASA will announce the launch date of the Artemis Orion rocket. 

According to NASA, SLS is the most powerful rocket in the world and in addition has the most powerful system that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the moon in a single mission. In this Artemis mission, the Gateway system will orbit the Moon and will be one of the most important systems in this mission, being the commercial human landing system. The mission will also be a historic one, as NASA will send the first woman and the first person of color to the moon. 

We wish astronauts, NASA, the spacecraft and the systems the best they can do! 

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 19 December 2021, at 03:15 am Los Angeles time

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