NASA is planning to perform a cryogenic demonstration test for the Artemis mission at 7.15 AM EDT (4.45 PM IST) on September 21. Two previous attempts at launching the mission had to be aborted due to technical issues. The second attempt was aborted because of a hydrogen fuel leak that was found while the Space Launch System’s (SLS) core stage was being fueled. NASA is now targeting a September 27 launch date for the mission.
During the test, NASA teams will load supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the SLS rocket. The cryogenic demonstration test will help NASA teams confirm that the hydrogen leak has been repaired properly. Apart from that, engineers will also evaluate updated propellant loading procedures and conduct additional evaluations.
The cryogenic demonstration will be aired live on NASA Television, the space agency’s app and its website. The live stream will be interrupted when the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carrying American astronaut Frank Rubio to the International Space Station launches, docks and opens its hatch.
There will also be a teleconference to preview the test at 11.30 AM EDT (9 PM IST) on Monday, September 9. The participants of the call will include the following people:
Tom Whitmeyer: Deputy associate administrator for Common Exploration Systems Development, NASA Headquarters
Mike Sarafin: Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters
Jeremy Parsons: Deputy manager, Exploration Ground Systems Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
John Blevins: Chief engineer, Space Launch System Program, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
But even if this cryogenic demonstration test goes as planned, there is another obstacle standing in the way of the planned Artemis 1 launch on September 27. The rocket’s Flight Termination System’s (FTS) certification has expired. NASA has sent in a request for the certification to be extended but that is still pending. If the space agency doesn’t receive certification, the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft might have to be rolled back into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Of course, the stack will have to be rolled back into the building either way if the cryogenic demonstration test is not successful.