NASA Packing Up Artemis I Mega Moon Rocket for Return to Vehicle Assembly Building

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Wildflowers frame a view of the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft on Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 21, 2022. Three lightning protection towers and the water tower are also in view. The SLS and Orion atop the mobile launcher were transported to the pad on crawler-transporter 2 for a prelaunch test called a wet dress rehearsal. Artemis I will be the first integrated test of the SLS and Orion spacecraft. In future Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone on the way to Mars. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are preparing the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for their return to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) early next week. While work at the launch pad continues over the weekend, NASA will also continue working closely with their commercial crew partners to finalize a date and time.

The transition from the testing configuration to the roll back formation required to return to the VAB is now underway. This process includes offloading hydrazine from the twin solid rocket boosters and disconnecting the rocket and spacecraft from the ground systems infrastructure at the launch pad. The core stage propellant was drained shortly after completing the last test attempt. The rocket and spacecraft remain in a safe configuration and will soon be placed atop the crawler-transporter for the 4-mile trek to the VAB.

Inside the VAB, engineers will repair a faulty helium check valve and a hydrogen leak on the mobile launcher while the supplier for the gaseous nitrogen makes upgrades to their pipeline configuration to support Artemis I testing and launch.

While most objectives associated with the wet dress rehearsal were met during recent testing, teams plan to return to the launch pad when repairs and checkouts in the VAB are complete for the next full wet dress test attempt. Following completion of the test, SLS and Orion will return to the VAB for the remaining checkouts before rolling back out to the pad for launch.

Watch a live stream of the rocket on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel and check back here for updates.



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