Skip to main content

NASA ready for key launchpad test of its mega moon rocket

NASA engineers are gearing up for another attempt at a key launchpad test for the agency’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft following several failed efforts in April. NASA wants to use the new spaceflight system for its Artemis missions to the moon.

The space agency is likely to reveal more about the scheduling for the upcoming test during a press conference starting at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, May 27.

.@NASAGroundSys teams have completed work to get the @NASA_SLS rocket and @NASA_Orion spacecraft ready for its next launchpad test ahead of the #Artemis I mission to the Moon.

On May 27, leaders will give an update. Reporters may RSVP:

— NASA (@NASA) May 26, 2022

NASA appears set to make another attempt at a wet dress rehearsal for its SLS spaceflight system in early June. The test, which will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will see the rocket filled with fuel, followed by a countdown as if for an actual launch.

A number of technical issues emerged during April’s attempts at a wet dress rehearsal, prompting NASA engineers to remove the rocket from the launchpad and return it to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building.

Those issues have now been fixed, clearing the way for the test in the coming weeks.

“Engineers successfully completed work on items identified during the previous wet dress rehearsal tests, including replacing and testing an upper stage check valve and fixing a small leak within the tail service mast umbilical ground plate housing,” NASA said in comments released on Thursday.

NASA’s SLS spaceflight system will herald a new era of lunar exploration when it lands the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the moon, possibly before the end of this decade.

The landing mission depends on the success of two upcoming test flights, the first (Artemis I) an uncrewed mission that will see the Orion spacecraft perform a flyby of the moon before returning to Earth, and the second (Artemis II) involving Orion taking the same path but with a crew on board.

If the upcoming wet dress rehearsal goes to plan, NASA could launch Artemis I as early as August, setting the space agency on a more certain path toward the first crewed lunar landing since the final Apollo mission in 1972.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Trio of Orion spacecraft prepped for NASA moon missions
Three NASA Orion spacecraft in production.

NASA has shared an image of three spacecraft that will play a central role in its next three Artemis missions to the moon.

Having already successfully tested the Orion spacecraft on a lunar flyby at the end of last year after being blasted into space by NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket, the American space agency is now overseeing the building of three more Orion capsules for upcoming Artemis missions.

Read more
Blue Origin suffers setback as one of its rocket engines explodes during test
Blue Origin performing a ground-based test on a BE-4 engine.

Blue Origin performing an earlier ground-based test on a BE-4 engine. Blue Origin

A Blue Origin rocket engine exploded during a ground-based test last month in a setback for the spaceflight company owned by Jeff Bezos.

Read more
NASA performs critical tests for Artemis V moon rocket
NASA tests the SLS rocket's new RS-25 engines for the Artemis V mission.

NASA is performing hot fire tests of the new RS-25 engines that will power the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket toward the moon in the Artemis V mission, currently scheduled for 2029.

“NASA entered the stretch run of a key RS-25 certification engine test series with a successful hot fire [on] June 1, continuing to set the stage for future Artemis missions to the moon,” the agency said in a post on its website.

Read more