For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – NASA announced the agency has moved up the rollout of the Artemis 1 Moon rocket from the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to its launch pad by nearly 2 days to Tuesday, Aug. 16 and is still targeting Aug. 29 as the launch date for the maiden flight of the mammoth SLS Mega Moon rocket on its unpiloted lunar test flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Although no reason was given poor weather in the form of heavy rains is approaching the Space Coast and could potentially have postponed the original plan to rollout the Artemis 1 rocket to Launch Complex-39B starting just after midnight Thursday, Aug. 18.
NASA confirmed that engineers and technicians at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have completed the final testing and checkouts of the Artemis I Moon rocket ahead of rolling to Launch Pad 39B.
Rollout of the 322 foot tall SLS/Orion stack from the VAB is targeted to begin as soon as 9 p.m. EDT of Tuesday, Aug. 16 ahead of a launch still targeted for Aug. 29.
For an SLS launch on Aug. 29, the window opens at 8:38 a.m. EDT and runs for 2 hours unto 10:38 a.m. EDT
Altogether, NASA teams have identified and reserved three launch dates on the Eastern Range as “placeholder dates” for potential launch opportunities: Aug. 29 at 8:38 a.m., Sept. 2 at 12:48 p.m., and Sept. 5, at 5:12 p.m. EDT.
In anticipation of the roll the crawler-transporter was rolled inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and under the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft today. Teams are currently working to prepare the integrated stack for rollout.
“Over the weekend the team completed testing of the flight termination system, which marked the final major activity prior to closing out the rocket and retracting the final access platforms in the VAB,” said NASA.
The agency will provide a live stream of the rollout beginning at 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 16 on the NASA Kennedy You Tube channel.
The rollout from the VAB to pad 39B is expected to take about 8 to 12 hours based on the previous two rollout events in March and June.
An SLS launch on any of these three dates will enable a ‘long-class’ Orion mission of greater than 5 weeks to the Moon and back to give the spacecraft the best workout possible before a crew of human astronauts fly aboard the Artemis 2 mission about 2 years later – now targeted for late 2024.
Artemis 1 will be uncrewed and is the first test flight in NASA’s Project Artemis program to return humans to the Moon for the first time in five decades.
To date the SLS/Orion stack have been rolled out and back between the VAB and pad 39 B two times in order to successfully complete the critical cryogenic tanking test known as the Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR).
The Artemis 1 WDR test concluded at 7:37 p.m. EDT June 20 at T-29 seconds in the countdown ending a 2-day test campaign by fully loading some 750,000 gallons of super cooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the SLS rocket core and upper stages after they developed a workaround to the hydrogen leak discovered in a 4-inch quick-disconnect fitting at the bottom of the core stage.
The second and last rollback following WDR was completed on July 2 – just beating out heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Engineers successfully completed the last integrated test before the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft roll out to Launch Pad 39B
They also completed the second part of the flight termination system (FTS) test. The first part of the test was conducted earlier this year prior to the wet dress rehearsal.
NASA also confirmed they obtained an extension of the FTS battery life that will enable a longer launch campaign to enable the ability to support all 3 potential launch dates through Sept. 5
“For safety purposes, all rockets are required to have a system that the Space Launch Delta 45 can use to terminate the flight if necessary. Following completion of the FTS testing, the Eastern Range requires SLS to launch within a certain timeframe,” says NASA
“In order to meet the Aug. 29 launch attempt and backup attempts on Sept. 2 and 5, NASA has received an extension from the Space Launch Delta 45 on the validation of the FTS from 20 to 25 days before the system would need to be retested.”
“The waiver will be valid throughout the Artemis I launch attempts.”
Teams then completed final closeouts on SLS and Orion before it rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building, including closing out the core stage and solid rocket boosters and retracting the remaining access platforms. The Orion crew module and launch abort system hatches were closed earlier last week.
The Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright attended and witnessed the SLS/Orion 1st and 2nd rollouts and rollbacks from KSC Press Site
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
Watch Ken’s commentary about Project Artemis, Capstone, NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA SpaceX Cargo Dragon, JWST, SpaceX missions including NASA Crew-3 and Crew 4, AX-1, Transporter-5, Starlink, Boeing Starliner, and NASA TROPICS 1.
Jul 14: Watch Ken’s live interview on NewsNation interview about the CRS-25 launch & dangers and threats from falling rockets and on orbit space debris collisions
Jul 14: WFTV ABC Orlando News featured my commentary about the CRS-25 mission
Jul 12: Watch Ken’s live interview on NewsNation interview about the release of the stunning first science images taken by NASA Webb and the spectacular discoveries about star birth, star death, galactic evolution, exoplanet atmospheres and much more and what it means.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX missions 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.
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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.
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