Around 3 a.m. on Saturday April 2, at approximately L-35 hours and 20 minutes, the Artemis I launch control team powered up the Space Launch System rocket’s core stage, which will be loaded with more than 700,000 gallons of propellants during the tanking phase of the countdown. During the day, teams will charge Orion flight batteries, conduct final preparations on umbilical arms, and conduct a final pre-launch walkdown.
While operations at the pad may not be visible during today’s activities at the launch pad, NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel.
NASA is also sharing updates on the Exploration Ground Systems Twitter account. Real-time updates from Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager of the Exploration Ground Systems Program, will begin on the account when the launch director and mission management team chair give a “go” for tanking operations, expected to occur around 7 a.m. EDT on Sunday, April 3.
NASA will provide an update after the conclusion of a weather briefing at 10 a.m. EDT.
At approximately 5 p.m. EDT, or L-45 hours, 40 minutes before the initial targeted test T-0, the launch team arrived at their stations inside the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The countdown is now underway for the wet dress rehearsal test for NASA’s Artemis I mission.
Prior to “call to stations” the team completed several activities including closing the Orion crew module hatch and conducting leak checks. Technicians then closed the hatch on the launch abort system and conducted final activities in the White Room, the access point between Orion and the Mobile Launcher. The crew access arm, where the White Room is located, was retracted away from the spacecraft and rocket. On March 31, Orion was powered-up and will remain on throughout the duration of the test.
Teams are now filling the sound suppression system with water at the launch pad, which is used to dampen and absorb acoustic energy during liftoff. Even though the Space Launch System engines will not fire during this test, teams are practicing carrying out operations as they would on launch day.
Overnight, teams will charge the SLS core stage batteries and configure ground systems to power up the stage, and purge and remove ducts for the RS-25 engines. The next operational update will be posted the morning of April 2.
Watch a live video stream of the rocket and spacecraft at the launch pad now on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel. In addition to updates on this blog, NASA also will provide operational updates on the Exploration Ground Systems Twitter account from Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager for Exploration Ground Systems.
The launch team is on track to begin the countdown for the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal test. Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 currently predict favorable weather conditions for tanking on April 3. The primary weather concern is lightning. There is currently less than a 10% chance of lightning within five nautical miles of the launch pad. Weather constraints stipulate there must be less than a 20% chance lightning within 5 nautical miles of pad during the first hour of tanking. Meteorologists are also predicting a 10% chance of winds greater than 23 knots on April 3, when tanking begins. Winds must not be above 37.5 knots and the temperature cannot be below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
The countdown is set to begin at 5 p.m. EDT April 1 with “call to stations” at L-45 hours, 40 minutes, when teams begin arriving to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Control Center. The approximately two-day wet dress rehearsal test for the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft 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 propellants to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.
In addition to updates on this blog, NASA will provide live updates on the Exploration Ground Systems Twitter account. NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at the launch pad on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel. Activity at the launch pad likely will not be visible during the majority of the countdown, but some venting may be seen during tanking on April 3.