In describing its plans for doing a second dress rehearsal countdown of its SLS rocket in June, NASA officials yesterday noted that they have delayed the actual launch until an August launch window so they will have time to do a third dress rehearsal before that launch.
But Free warned the issues are complex and it’s possible more than one tanking test will be required to thoroughly test the complex systems in the SLS rocket and their interaction with the ground systems that provide propellants, power and other critical elements. He said the August launch windows would “allow us to do two wet dress rehearsal attempts if we need them.”
“We are optimistic that we only need one more based on everything we’ve been able to do thus far to fine tune our tanking procedures,” he said. “But we also want to be realistic and upfront with you that it may take more than one attempt to get the procedures where we need them.”
According to this SpacePolicyOnline report, NASA has also mapped out additional launch windows for September through December.
In reviewing every news story about yesterday’s press conference, I could not find any that asked the agency about the status of SLS’s two solid rocket strap-on boosters. Both have now been stacked for more than seventeen months, and by August will have been stacked for twenty months, eight months past NASA’s use-by rule of one year. Either the past rules were too conservative, or NASA is simply ignoring the possibility that those boosters might no longer be viable. In either case, it is disappointing no reporter asked about this.
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