For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – NASA’s now repaired Artemis 1 Moon rocket rolled out from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to launch pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the 2nd time, just past midnight Monday, June 6 in anticipation of the next attempt at the critical countdown and fueling test – known as the Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR).
The four-mile trek from the VAB to arrive at Launch Complex 39B took approximately 8 hours under near perfect weather conditions.
If all goes well the 4th attempt to complete the WDR tanking test could take place as soon as June 20 – pending range availability and weather.
“NASA is targeting Saturday, June 18, for the beginning of the next wet dress rehearsal test of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with tanking operations on Monday, June 20,” NASA confirmed.
This 2nd transport of SLS to Launch Complex 39B followed just over 1 day after the seasons 1st tropical storm hit central and southern Florida – dumping about a foot of heavy flooding rains on the Miami area in particular.
Luckily the storms impact was less in the Spaceport area and did not interfere with technicians final preparations for the roll.
The VAB doors were raised ahead of the rollout.
The Artemis team started the 2nd rollout of NASA’s first ever Space Launch System (SLS) Mega Moon on Monday, June 6 with first motion at approximately 12:01 a.m. EDT.
The 32 story tall stack comprising the SLS integrated with the Orion human rated spacecraft on top of the Mobile Launcher was moved and driven to pad 39B using the diesel-powered crawler-transporter.
The SLS/Orion stack arrived back at pad 39B at approximately 8:20 a.m. ET June 6.
Overall the 4.2-mile (6.8-kilometer) journey took just over 8 hours and was hauled up the ramp for hard down atop pad 39B in launch position.
The crawler-transporter-2 moved at a top speed of about 0.8 mph (1.3 kilometers per hour).
All required repairs discovered during the prior WDR partial attempts conducted in April have been completed during the past month and a half of work inside the VAB, and the work access platforms had all been removed in anticipation of the midnight Monday roll to pad 39B.
“Teams successfully completed all major planned objectives identified during the previous wet dress rehearsal attempts, as well as some forward work previously planned for after the tanking test,” said NASA.
After arriving back to pad 39B for the second time engineers connected the rocket, Orion spacecraft and mobile launcher to the ground support equipment (GSE) systems.
They also ensured that the rocket is in a safe configuration in preparation of the upcoming tanking test
They will now conduct about two weeks worth of detailed check-outs to prepare for the tanking test like the first time – now scheduled for NET June 20.
During the WDR test, “the launch teams will rehearse operations to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.”
NASA will provide live coverage of the test on NASA Television media channel, as well as host media calls before and after the wet dress rehearsal test with audio streaming live on the agency’s website.
The WDR rehearsal is the final test needed before Artemis 1 can launch and calls for NASA to load over 750,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) propellants into the rocket’s core stage and second stage tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and drain the tanks to practice the timelines and procedures that will be used for launch.
The WDR cryogenic fueling and practice countdown test was halted after 3 attempts in April due to technical problems
The rocket was then rolled back to the VAB to carry out the repairs
“While inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), teams completed several major objectives, including assessing the liquid hydrogen system leak at the tail service mast umbilical, replacing the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) gaseous helium system check valve and support hardware, and modifying the ICPS umbilical purge boots. The addition of hazardous gas detectors above the upper stage allows for additional visibility into any potential leaks during cryogenic operations,” NASA reported.
The top priorities for technicians inside the VAB following the rollback were to replace a faulty upper stage check valve and find and fix a small hydrogen leak within the tail service mast umbilical (TSMU) ground plate housing, and perform additional checkouts before returning to the launch pad for the next wet dress rehearsal attempt.
Furthermore Air Liquid, the commercial supplier for the gaseous nitrogen (GN2) system, will make and verify upgrades to their pipeline configuration to support Artemis I testing and launch which twice delayed the WDR attempts by several hours when it was not operational in time during the countdown prior to the start of cryogenic fueling.
Following a serious leak of hazardous hydrogen NASA was forced to halt the 3rd attempt to complete the critical countdown and fueling test of cryogenic propellants known as the Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) on Thursday, April 14, for the maiden Space Launch System (SLS) Mega Moon rocket planned to launch on the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission as soon as this summer.
NASA decided the SLS rocket would have to be rolled back to the VAB to locate, fix and repair the source of the hydrogen leak discovered in the tail service mast umbilical at the base of the mobile launcher during loading of liquid hydrogen (LH2) propellent into the SLS core stage Thursday afternoon April 14 – and resolve other significant problems as well such as the faulty upper stage Helium (He) check valve.
Stacked on the mobile launcher and mounted on the crawler-transporter-2 (CT-2) for the SLS/Orion stack journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Complex 39B, originally took 10-hours and 28 minutes for the 3.5-million-pound SLS and Orion to arrive at the launch pad 4.2 miles (6.8 km) away on March 17/18.
The 322-foot-tall (98 m) Artemis 1 stack arrived at Launch Complex-39B under dense fog at 4:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT) on Friday, March 18 on a momentous trip along the same crawlerway that previously hosted NASA’s Saturn V and Space Shuttle rockets for more than five decades of America’s ambitious space exploration programs
The upgraded crawler-transporter-2 (CT-2) originally built for NASA’s Apollo Moon landing program in the 1960s and 1970s will move the stack at a maximum of 0.82 mph (1.3 kph) toward the pad.
The Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright attended and witnessed the SLS/Orion 1st and 2nd rollouts from KSC Press Site and also witnessed the rollback return on April 26 to make the required repairs
Enjoy our photos of SLS/Orion rolling out and back between the VAB and pad 39B.
Read my earlier detailed stories about the rollout, rollback and repairs illustrated with our photos
NASA will set a launch date for Artemis 1 only after successfully completing the WDR
After this next WDR the SLS/Orion stack will again be rolled back to the VAB for refurbishments, installation of the FTS and any further repairs and other work needed to ready for the launch campaign
Liftoff is expected NET late August
Watch Ken’s commentary about NASA SLS WDR demo test, SpaceX missions including Nilesat 301, Transporter-5, Boeing Starliner, NASA Crew-3, Crew 4 and SpaceX AX-1 missions and Starlink and NASA TROPICS 1.
Jun 9/10: WFTV ABC Orlando features my commentary about the upcoming NASA TROPICS 1 & 2 cubesat science launch on an Astra Rocket 3.3 from pad 46 for NASA which will study the formation and evolution of Tropical Cyclones and Hurricanes. Two more launches will follow for 6 TROPICS cubesats altogether over next few months
Jun 8: WFTV ABC Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of NileSat301 telecom sat for Egypt
June 6/7: WFTV ABC Orlando features my commentary about completing 2nd rollout to pad 39B for 2nd round WDR tanking test, what’s involved in and why its critical to the future of Project Artemis:
May 25/26: WFTV ABC Orlando featured my commentary about the successful ISS undocking and touchdown of Starliner on OFT-2 test flight
May 19/20: WFTV ABC Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my prelaunch and post launch commentary about the critical nature of the Boeing Starliner OFT-2 mission for NASA
May 11: WFTV ABC Orlando News featured my commentary & analysis about Boeing Starliner crew capsule targeting launch May 19 for long delayed OFT2 uncrewed test flight for NASA after completing FRR this afternoon. It must dock at ISS to be considered successful to enable follow-on NASA astronaut flights maybe by late 2022
Apr 29: WKMG CBS 6 with my commentary about the record setting Falcon 9 turnaround of 21 days since the Axiom-1 launch
Apr 22: Fox 35 Orlando features my analysis of the busy week ahead in space with weather delayed Earth return of AX-1 crew this weekend, launch of 4 NASA/ESA Crew-4 astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon NET Apr 26 & rollback of NASA SLS to VAB for repairs
Apr 20: WFTV ABC News Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX static fire and impact of weather induced delays to departure of Ax-1 and launch of Crew-4.
Apr 15/16 & Apr 12/13: WFTV ABC News Orlando and WKMG CBS 6 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS:
Apr 6: WFTV ABC 9 Orlando featured my comments about 1st fully private astronaut launch to ISS by SpaceX on AX-1 mission:https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/first-all-private-astronaut-mission-iss-set-liftoff-kennedy-space-center-this-week/FYE5QAT735BA7G42O6IVCJGB4Q/
Apr 4 & 5: WFTV ABC News Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom-1, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Please consider supporting Ken’s work by purchasing his photos and/or donating at Patreon