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Next Week Is Make It or Break It Time for the Artemis I Mission in 2022

Given the complexities of such an endeavor, there is no official estimate of how much money the Artemis Moon exploration program has already burned through. Many, many billions is a fair assumption, and that means one thing: only something truly catastrophic could put an end to this effort.
SLS on the pad 15 photos
Space Launch System and Orion on the move to the pad for the second timeSpace Launch System and Orion on the move to the pad for the second timeSpace Launch System and Orion on the move to the pad for the second timeSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout beginsSpace Launch System rollout begins
A failed wet dress rehearsal test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule is far from catastrophic, but two failed wet dress rehearsal tests will probably kill any chance of seeing the combo fly on the first mission to the Moon by the end of the year. This is why the upcoming week is crucial for Artemis I.

That’s when NASA decided to start running the test once more, now that the leaks and other problems experienced during the first attempt a couple of months ago have been fixed. The upcoming procedure will begin on Saturday, June 18, with call to stations, while tanking operations are scheduled for June 20.

Just as before, during the test “the launch teams will rehearse operations to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.”

NASA will stream the entire procedure live on the usual platforms, with streaming starting well in advance, on June 15.

As per the outlined procedure, at 7 a.m EDT on June 20 it will be decided if the tanking (fueling up of the thing) is a go or a no go. The actual two-hour test window opens at 2:40 p.m., but it’ll probably not be a flowing countdown the kind of which we’re used to from actual launches – rocket scientists reserve the right to hold the timer “as necessary to verify conditions before resuming the countdown, or extend beyond the test window, if needed and resources allow.”

So, good luck, SLS, and here’s to hoping next time we hear of you, you’re on the way back to the Vehicle Assembly building to get ready for the first Moon mission of the Artemis program.

 
 
 
 
 

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