NASA managers today decided they will not attempt another launch of SLS during the present launch window that closes on September 6, 2022, and will bring the rocket back to assembly building for more detailed trouble-shooting.
Engineers not only need to solve the hydrogen fuel leak in a fuel line connection that caused today’s launch scrub, they will also have to replace the flight termination batteries needed in case the rocket has to be destroyed during liftoff because it is flying out of control. These batteries only have a few weeks life, and the launch delays this week caused them to reach their limit.
The next launch windows are either from September 19 to October 4, excluding September 29-30, or October 17 to October 31, excluding October 24, 25, 26, and 28.
At that point SLS’s two solid rocket strap-on boosters will have been stacked for about two years, one full year past what NASA once considered their safe lifespan. The agency has waived that rule for SLS, but waiving it for more than a full year might simply be too risky. If the boosters need to be replaced, that will delay the launch by at least another three months, at the minimum.
Right now the odds remain high this launch will not occur in 2022.
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