After analyzing the data from an aborted fueling dress rehearsal, NASA engineers have decided they understand and have fixed the issue that caused the abort and have now scheduled the full static fire test of SLS’s core stage for January 17th.
NASA conducted the seventh test of the SLS core stage Green Run test series – the wet dress rehearsal – on Dec. 20 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and marked the first time cryogenic, or super cold, liquid propellant was fully loaded into, and drained from, the SLS core stage’s two immense tanks. The wet dress rehearsal provided structural and environmental data, verified the stage’s cryogenic storage capabilities, demonstrated software with the stage’s flight computers and avionics, and conducted functional checks of all the stage’s systems. The end of the test was automatically stopped a few minutes early due to timing on a valve closure. Subsequent analysis of the data determined the valve’s predicted closure was off by a fraction of a second, and the hardware, software, and stage controller all performed properly to stop the test. The team has corrected the timing and is ready to proceed with the final test of the Green Run series.
…The upcoming hot fire test will fire all four of the stage’s RS-25 engines simultaneously for up to eight minutes to simulate the core stage’s performance during launch. After the firing at Stennis, the core stage for SLS will be refurbished and shipped on the agency’s Pegasus barge to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The stage will then be assembled with the other parts of the rocket and NASA’s Orion spacecraft in preparation for Artemis I, the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion and the first mission of the agency’s Artemis program.
The agency had been hoping to complete this test series before the end of 2020. Whether the delay will effect the planned launch date in November is unclear. I suspect they are already anticipating another postponement, in that this press release strangely makes no mention of that launch date.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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