Mission Managers Give “Go” to Proceed Toward Tanking Operations for Artemis I

The Artemis I Mission Management Team has given the “go” to proceed toward tanking operations.

Weather conditions remain 60% favorable at the beginning of the two-hour launch window which opens at 2:17 p.m. EDT Sept. 3, with conditions improving to 80% favorable toward the later part of the window.

Artemis I launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson is scheduled to give the “go” shortly to officially begin propellant loading operations.

During tanking operations, teams will fuel the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2), beginning with the rocket’s core stage and then the interim cryogenic propulsion stage.

Tanking begins with chilling down the LOX lines for the core stage. The process for the chill down, or cooling, uses the propellant lines to load the rocket’s core stage LOX in preparation for tanking. The LOX tank holds 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen, cooled to minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit. In sequential fashion, LOX and LH2 will flow into the rocket’s core stage tank and be topped off and replenished as some of the cryogenic propellant boils off.

The process involves slowly filling the core stage with propellant to thermally condition the tank until temperature and pressure are stable before beginning fast fill operations, which is when the tank is filled at a quicker pump speed. As the super cold liquid oxygen fills the core stage tank, some venting may be visible. The team also will conduct leak checks to ensure propellant loading is proceeding as expected.

At 5:45 a.m., NASA TV coverage begins with commentary of tanking operations to load propellant into the SLS rocket. Full coverage begins at 12:15 p.m. in English and at 1 p.m., coverage in Spanish begins.

A full list of countdown milestones is available here.