CAPSTONE Spacecraft Launch Targeted No Earlier Than June 27

NASA, Rocket Lab, and Advanced Space are now targeting June 27, 2022, for the launch of the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon, allowing teams more time for rocket preparations. CAPSTONE’s trajectory design means that the spacecraft will arrive to its lunar orbit on Nov. 13 regardless of launch date within the current period, which runs through July 27.

Artemis I WDR Update: Test Ends at 7:37 p.m. EDT at T-29 Seconds

The Artemis I wet dress rehearsal ended today at 7:37 p.m. EDT at T-29 seconds in the countdown. Today’s test marked the first time the team fully loaded all the Space Launch System rocket’s propellant tanks and proceeded into the terminal launch countdown, when many critical activities occur in rapid succession.

During propellant loading operations earlier in the day, launch controllers encountered a hydrogen leak in the quick disconnect that attaches an umbilical from the tail service mast on the mobile launcher to the rocket’s core stage. The team attempted to fix the leak by warming the quick disconnect and then chilling it back down to realign a seal, but their efforts did not fix the issue.

Launch controllers then developed a plan to mask data associated with the leak that would trigger a hold by the ground launch sequencer, or launch computer, in a real launch day scenario, to allow them to get as far into the countdown as possible. The time required to develop the plan required extended hold time during the countdown activities, but they were able to resume with the final 10 minutes of the countdown, called terminal count. During the terminal count, the teams performed several critical operations  that must be accomplished for launch including switching control from the ground launch sequencer to the automated launch sequencer controlled by the rocket’s flight software, and important step that the team wanted to accomplish.

NASA will hold a media teleconference about the test Tuesday, June 21 at 11 a.m., which will stream on the agency’s website. A live feed of the rocket at launch pad continues to be available.

 

Artemis I WDR Update: ICPS Propellant Loading Begins

The launch control team is filling the Space Launch System’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) with liquid hydrogen (LH2) followed by liquid oxygen (LOX) loading. The core stage LH2 and LOX tanks, meanwhile, are being replenished as some of the supercool propellant boils off, meaning the propellant tank will be full through the rest of the countdown.

For the wet dress rehearsal, teams will conduct a test to demonstrate the capability to stop loading the core stage LH2 flow and will then resume with replenishment.

At L-40 minutes, the launch control team will conduct a planned 30-minute hold around 3:58 p.m. EDT prior to the start of the terminal count portion of the test. Mission managers will conduct a final poll on whether to proceed with terminal count at that time.

NASA is streaming live video and live commentary of the test on the agency’s website. Venting on the rocket is visible during these tanking operations.

Artemis I WDR Update: Core Stage Propellant Loading Underway

The launch control team has begun chill down operations and resumed the countdown clock ahead of flowing super cold liquid oxygen (LOX) into the core stage tank. The T-0 time for today’s test is now 4:38 p.m. EDT for the first of the two terminal count runs for the wet dress rehearsal.

The process for filling the core stage tank begins with the chill down, or cooling, of the propellant lines to load the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in preparation for tanking. The team will slowly fill liquid oxygen into the core stage tank with the fast fill beginning soon after. Teams will then proceed to slowly fill the core stage’s liquid hydrogen tank followed by fast fill.

The next blog update will be provided when propellant loading of the interim cryogenic propulsion stage begins.

NASA is streaming live video and live commentary of the test on the agency’s website. Venting may be visible during tanking operations.

Artemis I WDR Update: Launch Director Gives “Go” for Propellant Loading, Countdown Set to Resume

The launch director gave the “go” to start tanking operations. The countdown will resume at 9:20 a.m. EDT at T-6 hours, 40 minutes.

Tanking begins with chilling down, or cooling, the liquid oxygen propellant lines for the core stage. In sequential fashion, liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) will flow into the rocket’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage tanks and be topped off and replenished as some of cryogenic propellant boils off. The team also will conduct leak checks to ensure propellant loading is proceeding as expected.

The core stage’s liquid oxygen tank holds 196,000 gallons of the propellant, cooled to minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit. Teams will fill the tank slowly at first and then will begin filling it more quickly. The liquid hydrogen tank holds 537,000 gallons. As the super cold liquid oxygen fills the core stage tank, some venting may be visible.

NASA is streaming live video and live commentary of the test on the agency’s website. Venting may be visible during tanking operations.

Artemis I WDR Update: Mission Management Team “Go” to Proceed with Tanking

The mission management team chair has given a “go” to proceed with tanking the Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal test. As the countdown continues, the launch director will be responsible for giving the “go” to officially begin the tanking process. Meteorologists with Space Launch Delta 45 said that weather remains favorable for the test.

Tanking begins with chilling down the liquid oxygen lines for the core stage. In sequential fashion, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen will flow into the into the rocket’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage tanks and be topped off and replenished as some of cryogenic propellant boils off. The team also will conduct leak checks to ensure propellant loading is proceeding as expected.

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and providing live commentary on the agency’s website. Venting may be visible during tanking operations.

Artemis I WDR Update: Mission Management Team Polls Go, Weather Favorable for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal

The mission management team for Artemis I met this afternoon to review the status of operations and continues to press ahead toward terminal countdown for the wet dress rehearsal test. Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 currently predict favorable weather conditions for tanking operations on Monday, June 20. Weather constraints stipulate there must be less than a 20% chance lightning within 5 nautical miles of the pad during the first hour of tanking. Winds must not be above 37.5 knots and the temperature cannot be below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Teams are performing a pre-launch walkdown of the rocket to ensure the Space Launch System is prepared for the upcoming propellant loading operations. Later today, they will configure mobile launcher and pad facility systems and structures, and power up the interim cryogenic propulsion stage.

The mission management team will meet again Monday morning at 6 a.m. EDT or L-8 hours, 40 minutes in the countdown at the beginning of a planned 90 minute built in hold to assess operations and determine whether to proceed with tanking operations.

A summary of the schedule for the wet dress rehearsal test is available here.

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and will provide live commentary on the agency’s website beginning with tanking operations scheduled to begin at approximately 7 a.m. EDT on June 20.

Artemis I WDR Update: Countdown Progresses Overnight, Teams Remain On Track for Monday Tanking Operations

The launch team is making its way through countdown operations and wet dress rehearsal activities remain on track. The mission management team will meet this afternoon to review the status of operations.

 

Overnight, engineers powered up the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System’s core stage. Teams also configured several systems on the ground, rocket, and spacecraft and performed activities to prepare umbilicals that connect the rocket and spacecraft to the mobile launcher and are used to provide power, communications, coolant, and propellant.

 

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and will provide live commentary on the agency’s website beginning with tanking operations on June 20.

Artemis I WDR Update: Countdown is Underway for Wet Dress Rehearsal

At approximately 5 p.m. EDT today, the launch team arrived at their stations inside the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin the wet dress rehearsal test for NASA’s Artemis I mission. The countdown began 30 minutes later at 5:30 p.m. or L-45 hours, 10 minutes before the initial target T-0 of 2:40 p.m. on Monday, June 20.

Overnight, teams will power up the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System core stage and prepare the rocket’s four RS-25 engines, which will not be lit during the test.

Weather constraints for propellant loading operations planned for Monday stipulate there must be less than a 20% chance lightning within 5 nautical miles of pad during the first hour of tanking. Winds also must not be above 37.5 knots and the temperature cannot be below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and will provide live commentary on the agency’s website beginning with tanking operations on June 20. Activity at the launch pad will likely not be visible during the majority of the countdown, but some venting may be seen during propellant loading.

Teams on Track for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Test

NASA is on track to begin the approximately two-day wet dress rehearsal for the agency’s Artemis I mission. The test will begin at approximately 5 p.m. EDT June 18 with “call to stations,” when the launch team arrives at their consoles inside the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rehearsal will run the Artemis I launch team through operations to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and also drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.

Approximate times for milestones during the test are below. During the test, the timing for some events on account of several planned operational demonstrations tied to specific capabilities and test objectives may differ from the day of launch countdown. These demonstrations include tests on the cryogenic systems and an approximately three-minute hold inside the terminal count, which would not normally occur on launch day. If needed, the test team may also hold as necessary to verify conditions before resuming the countdown, or use the test window or extend beyond it, if consumables and resources allow them to complete test objectives.

Prior to Call to Stations

  • The Orion crew module hatch is closed (will occur at ~L-37.5 hours for launch)
  • The crew access arm is retracted (will occur at ~L-30 hours for launch)
  • Leak checks are completed on the Orion spacecraft and the launch abort system is closed (will occur at ~L-29 hours, 30 minutes for launch)

5 p.m. EDT, June 18 – L-45 hours, 40 minutes and counting 

  • The launch team arrives on their stations and the countdown begins (L-45, 40 minutes hours)
  • Fill the water tank for the sound suppression system (L-45 hours)
  • Orion spacecraft power up start (L-41 hours)
  • SLS core stage is powered up (L-35 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Final preparations of the four RS-25 engines complete (L-30 hours, 30 minutes)
    • Engines will not fire during this test

1:40 a.m., June 20 – L-13 hours and counting 

  • The SLS interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) is powered up (L-12 hours, 50 minutes)
  • All non-essential personnel leave Launch Complex 39B (L-12 hours)

6 a.m. – L-8 hours, 40 minutes and counting

  • Built in countdown hold begins and lasts approximately 1.5 hours (L-8 hours, 40 minutes)
  • The launch director and mission management team chair conduct a weather and tanking briefing (L-8 hours, 20 minutes)
  • The launch director and mission management team chair decide if they are “go” or “no-go” to begin tanking the rocket (L-7 hours, 50 minutes)

6:40 a.m. – L-8 hours and counting

  • 7:35 a.m.: Core stage liquid oxygen (LOX) chilldown start (L-7 hours, 05 minutes)
  • 8:15 a.m.: Core stage LOX slow fill start (L-6 hours, 25 minutes)
  • 8:30 a.m.: Core stage LOX fast fill start (L-6 hours, 10 minutes)
  • 8:35 a.m.: Core stage liquid hydrogen (LH2) chilldown start (L-6 hours, 5 minutes)
  • 8:40 a.m.: Core stage LH2 slow fill start (L-6 hours)
  • 9:00 a.m.: Core stage LH2 fast fill start (L-5 hours, 40 minutes)

10:10 a.m. – L-4 hours, 30 minutes and counting 

  • 10:10 a.m.: Core stage LH2 topping start (L-4 hours, 30 minutes)
  • 10:15 a.m.: ICPS LH2 chilldown (L-4 hours, 25 minutes)
  • 10:15 a.m.: Core stage LH2 replenish start (L-4 hours 25 minutes)
  • 10:20 a.m.: Orion communications system activation start (L-4 hours, 20 minutes)
  • 10:40 a.m.: ICPS LH2 fast fill (L-4 hours)

11:10 a.m. – L-3 hours, 30 minutes and counting 

  • 11:15 a.m.: Core stage LOX topping start (L-3 hours, 25 minutes)
  • 11:20 a.m.: Core stage LOX replenish start (L-3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • 11:20 a.m.: ICPS LOX chilldown start (L-3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • 11:25 a.m.: ICPS LH2 validation and leak test start (L-3 hours, 15 minutes)
  • 11:30 a.m.: ICPS LOX fast fill start (L-3 hours, 10 minutes)
  • 11:40 a.m.: ICPS LH2 tanks load topping start (L-3 hours)
  • 11:40 a.m.: ICPS/SLS telemetry data verified with Mission Control Center and SLS Engineering Support Center (L-3 hours)
  • 12 p.m.: ICPS LH2 replenish start (L-2 hours, 40 minutes)
  • 12 p.m.: ICPS LOX validation and leak test (L-2 hours, 40 minutes)
  • 12:20 p.m.: ICPS LOX topping start (L-2 hours, 20 minutes)
  • 12:30 p.m.: ICPS LOX replenish start (L-2 hours, 10 minutes)
  • 12:40 p.m.: WDR-specific core stage LOX/LH2 stop flow and recover test (L-2 hours through L-55 minutes)

2 p.m. – L-40 minutes and holding 

  • 2 p.m.: Final NASA test director briefing begins
  • 2 p.m.: Built in 30-minute countdown hold begins
  • 2:25 p.m.: The launch director polls the team to ensure they are “go” for terminal count for test purposes

2:30 p.m. – T-10 minutes and counting (WDR Run 1) 

    • 2:34 p.m.
      • Orion ascent pyros are armed (T-6 minutes)
      • Orion set to internal power (T-6 minutes)
      • Core stage LH2 terminate replenish (T-5 minutes, 57 seconds)
    • 2:36 p.m.
      • Core stage auxiliary power unit starts (T-4 minutes)
      • Core stage LOX terminate replenish (T-4 minutes)
      • ICPS LOX terminate replenish (T-3 minutes, 30 seconds)
    • 2:38 p.m.
      • ICPS switches to internal battery power (T-1 minute, 56 seconds)
      • Core stage switches to internal power (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
      • 3 minute launch ready hold (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
        • Wet dress rehearsal only
      • ICPS enters terminal countdown mode (T-1 minute, 20 seconds)
    • 2:41 p.m.
      • ICPS LH2 terminate replenish (T-50 seconds)
      • Ground launch sequencer sends “cut-off” command (T-33 seconds)

Perform Critical Safing and Planned Recycle back to T-10 minutes and holding (takes approximately one hour)

T-10 minutes and counting  (WDR Run 2) 

  • Orion ascent pyrotechnics are armed (T-6 minutes)
  • Orion set to internal power (T-6 minutes)
  • Core stage LH2 terminate replenish (T-5 minutes, 57 seconds)
  • Core stage auxiliary power unit starts (T-4 minutes)
  • Core stage LOX terminate replenish (T-4 minutes)
  • ICPS LOX terminate replenish (T-3 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • ICPS switches to internal battery power (T-1 minute, 56 seconds)
  • Core stage switches to internal power (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
  • ICPS enters terminal countdown mode (T-1 minute, 20 seconds)
  • ICPS LH2 terminate replenish (T-50 seconds)
  • Ground launch sequencer sends “Go for automated launch sequencer” command (T-33 seconds)
  • Core stage flight computer to automated launching sequencer (T-30 seconds)
  • Ground launch sequencer manual cut-off at T-9.34 seconds

Teams will then proceed conducting critical safing and core and upper stage cryogenic fuel drain operations.

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and will provide live commentary on the agency’s website beginning with tanking operations on June 20. Activity at the launch pad will likely not be visible during the majority of the countdown, but some venting may be seen during propellant loading.