NASA: big problems for its super spacecraft. Failed tests, needs repairs

NASA announced in late April 16 that it will withdraw the S pace Launch System from the launch pad for various repairs, further delaying the rocket's long-awaited first launch.

In a statement in late April 16, NASA announced that it planned to return the SLS to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) "due to required upgrades from an off-site supplier of nitrogen used for testing," said the agency. Problems with the supply of nitrogen, used to support activities at the pad, had delayed two previous countdown tests.

NASA did not say when the vehicle would return from Launch Complex 39B, where it was taken on March 17, to the VAB. The agency said it will hold a briefing on April 18 on its plans. The agency added that it will use the time in the VAB to repair a defective helium retention valve in the upper stage of the SLS and a hydrogen leak detected shortly after starting to charge liquid hydrogen into the rocket's middle stage while attempting the April 14. It was the first time that liquid hydrogen was loaded, after technical problems had stopped previous attempts, but the test was stopped after only 5% hydrogen loading. The objective, which was missed, was to proceed with the complete loading of the fuel (hydrogen) and the comburent (oxygen) and then reach up to 10 seconds before launch in the countdown. Instead, we still remained very far away.

The loss that led to the interruption of the loading process is on the land 'side of the tail service tree of the mobile launcher and not on the SLS itself. Good news, because, in the end, the defects in the shuttle itself were relatively few, boiling down to a faulty helium valve. But he preferred to roll back the SLS to the VAB: "There are some more invasive options that require delving into the hardware and potentially having to deal with extensive troubleshooting," he said, the work he indicated could be done better. in the VAB ". Then leaving the shuttle on the launch pad makes it much more prone to having problems when loading. In the meantime, however, the SLS heavy launcher is still not ready and this leaves only SPACE X as an option for loads to the International Space Station.

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This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL on Sun, 17 Apr 2022 12:01:01 +0000.