NASA Fixing Hydrogen Leak, Plans Cryo Tanking Test and Targets Late September Artemis 1 Moon Rocket Launch: Photos

NASA Fixing Hydrogen Leak, Plans Cryo Tanking Test and Targets Late September Artemis 1 Moon Rocket Launch: Photos
Up Close view of the tail service mast umbilical (TSMU) connected to the base of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Launch Complex 39B, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the hydrogen fuel leak occurred during 2nd launch attempt of the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission on Sept. 3, 2022 that was ultimately scrubbed due to a hydrogen fuel leak. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – NASA announced that technicians are repairing the leaking hydrogen fuel line on the mammoth Artemis 1 Moon rocket out at launch pad 39B which in turn will enable the team to carry out a full tanking demonstration test of super cold cryogenics to verify whether the dangerous leak has been fixed out at the pad under cryogenic conditions, rather than back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where cryo cooling is not possible – and furthermore set up late September for the next launch attempt from Florida’s Space Coast.

However those tentative pair of late September launch dates are completely contingent on two factors: a successful cryo tanking test and NASA obtaining a waiver to significantly extend the lifetime of the Flight Termination System (FTS) batteries from the U.S. Space Force – and obtaining that FTS waiver is a very big IF!

During the 2nd launch attempt a hydrogen leak was discovered in an 8 inch quick disconnect (QD) fitting – forcing the second Artemis 1 scrub last Saturday Sept. 3.

The large hydrogen leak on Sept. 3 was in a different QD fitting spot and the concentration was much larger compared to the prior one during the first launch attempt on Aug. 29.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion spacecraft atop Launch Complex 39B, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is seen venting liquid oxygen during 2nd launch attempt of the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission on Sept. 3, 2022 that was ultimately scrubbed due to a hydrogen fuel leak. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

If all that pad work is successful then the launch team can proceed towards an accelerated third launch attempt in late September, by skipping a rollback of the 32 story tall stack back to the VAB at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida – that in turn would force a launch delay of roughly four to six weeks and set up a launch for the following launch period and no earlier than (NET) mid to late October as previously believed, NASA managers said at a media briefing on Sept. 8.

NASA is reserving two dates on the Eastern Range with the Space Force  – namely Sept. 23 and Sept 27, for planning purposes in hopes the waiver is granted, explained Jim Free, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems development, at a Sept. 8 media briefing.

Technicians will replace seals in both the 8 inch and 4 inch quick disconnects on the leaking liquid hydrogen fuel feed and bleed line at a mechanical interface connection between the ground side and flight side umbilical plates meet and where the hydrogen lines feed into the base of the SLS rockets core stage located at the Tail Service Mast Umbilical (TSMU) on top of the mobile launcher.

See a closeup of the TSMU and hydrogen fuel line connected to the bottom of the SLS rocket in our lead photo taken by Ken Kremer for Space UpClose.

The FTS batteries must function, and FTS would be activated to destroy the rocket in case it veers off course and threatens populated areas near the KSC launch site.

All rockets are equipped with an FTS system to protect the public and property from grievous harm and destruction.

Currently the FTS batteries are certified for only 25 days – recently raised up from 20 days – and the SLS/Orion stack must be rolled back to the VAB to retest and recharge them. That retest and recharge work can’t be done out at the pad.

NASA’s Free declined to say how long of a waiver they requested from the Space Force.

But to enable late September launch dates the waiver must extend the FTS lifetime life time by several weeks at a minimum – roughly doubling the certified lifetime. That’s truly a significant change

Personally I am uncomfortable with NASA’s waiver request being done in the middle of a launch campaign and feel it should have been requested several months ago when there would be no undue pressure put on Space Force decision makers at the Eastern Range

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen up close atop Launch Complex 39B, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after rollout on Aug, 16, 2022 from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Launch on the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission is slated for NET Sept. 23, 2022. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

Free also announced that NASA is targeting no earlier than (NET) Sept. 17 for the cryogenic tanking demonstration test.

During the test engineers and technician will fully load both the SLS core stage and ICPS upper stage with both liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen propellants – approximately some 750,000 gallons.

The tanking demonstration test is being run to verify whether the QD seat replacement and repair was effective in stopping the hydrogen leak in both hydrogen fuel lines.

Leaking hydrogen can only be detected with confidence at cryogenic temperatures during propellant loading operations – either during an actual launch attempt or a tanking test of some sort.

To carry out the seal replacement technicians “constructed a tent-like enclosure around the work area to protect the hardware and teams from weather and other environmental conditions at Launch Pad 39B. They have disconnected the ground- and rocket-side plates on the interface, called a quick disconnect, for the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line, performed initial inspections, and began replacing two seals – one surrounding the 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the core stage, and another surrounding the 4-inch bleed line used to redirect some of the propellant during tanking operations,” according to a NASA description in a blog post.

NASA confirmed the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are in good condition while remaining at the launch pad.

“Once the work is complete, engineers will reconnect the plates and perform initial tests to evaluate the new seals.”

“Teams will check the new seals under cryogenic, or supercold, conditions no earlier than Sept. 17 in which the rocket’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage will be loaded with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to validate the repair under the conditions it would experience on launch day. Engineers are in the process of developing a full plan for the checkouts.”

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion spacecraft atop Launch Complex 39B, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is seen during 2nd launch attempt of the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission on Sept. 3, 2022 that was ultimately scrubbed due to a hydrogen fuel leak. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

The large hydrogen leak on Sept. 3 was in a different quick disconnect fitting spot and the concentration was much larger compared to the prior one on Aug. 29.

 

On Saturday, Sept. 3, the hydrogen leak concentration exceeded the flammability limit of 4% by two or three times, said Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. at a post scrub briefing.

“In terms of the leak that we saw on Monday [Aug. 29], it was a manageable leak. This was not a manageable leak,” Sarafin said at the post scrub briefing a few hours after the scrub was called.

Three attempts to fix the hydrogen leak by trying to reseat a loose seal in the quick disconnect all failed.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion spacecraft atop Launch Complex 39B, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is seen during 2nd launch attempt of the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission on Sept. 3, 2022 that was ultimately scrubbed due to a hydrogen fuel leak. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

NASA has requested the following two launch opportunities for late September from the Eastern Range:

  • Sept 23: Two-hour launch window opens at 6:47 a.m. EDT; landing on Oct. 18
  • Sept. 27: 70-minute launch window opens at 11:37 a.m.; landing on Nov. 5

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.

 

NASA officials waved off the Artemis 1 launch attempt on Aug, 29 because of a combination of poor weather and multiple technical issues that left insufficient time to institute fixes.

Despite a favorable weather outlook, the weather was red almost the entire window and would have forced a scrub even if the rocket had been ready with no technical show stoppers.

 

Following the scrub called on the first launch attempt of the Artemis 1 Moon rocket on Monday, Aug 29, NASA officials had decided to postpone 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) by a day from the original target of Friday, Sept. 2 to Saturday, Sept. 3 to allow more time for managers and technicians to evaluate the rocket, fix a hydrogen leak and hope for better weather.

 

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion spacecraft atop Launch Complex 39B, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is seen during 2nd launch attempt of the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission on Sept. 3, 2022 that was ultimately scrubbed due to a hydrogen fuel leak. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

The Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright attended and witnessed both SLS/Orion launch attempts and the rollouts and rollbacks from KSC Press Site

Enjoy our photos of SLS/Orion launch attempts at pad 39B and rolling out and back between the VAB and pad 39B.

Read my earlier detailed stories about the launch attempts 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.

Sep 10/11: Interview with Fox 35 Orlando about NASA repairing both QD seals to fix leaking hydrogen in the TSMU, conduct a full tanking test to verify no H2 leaks. + NASA managers have surprisingly requested a waiver to extend the certified lifetime of the FTS batteries & avoid rollback to VAB for retesting – in the middle of the launch campaign-from US Space Force. FTS would destroy a rocket if it goes off course

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/nasa-fixes-artemis-leaks-hopes-for-late-september-launch

Sep 9: WKMG CBS 6 Orlando features my commentary re new NASA plan to get #Artemis1 Moon rocket ready for next launch attempt as soon as Sep 23 or 27. Teams will repair & replace leaky hydrogen seals in the TSMU, conduct a full tanking test to verify no H2 leaks. + NASA managers have surprisingly requested a waiver to extend the certified lifetime of the FTS batteries & avoid rollback to VAB for retesting – in the middle of the launch campaign-from US Space Force. FTS would destroy a rocket if it goes off course

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/space-news/2022/09/09/new-artemis-i-launch-dates-contingent-on-nasa-avoiding-rocket-rollback/

Sep 6:  Watch my Artemis1 comments at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando on whats ahead for fixing the hydrogen leak and rollback to VAB – with next launch attempt pad 39B NET late Sept. at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

https://www.wftv.com/news/video-scrubbed-artemis-i-launch-whats-next/c0a10962-4aef-4090-8ad6-5f07e5c124ab/

Sep 5/6: My commentary at WKMG CBS 6 Orlando about what are the next steps for NASA to get #Artemis1 ready for next launch attempt and when that might be after 2 scrubbed attempts

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/space-news/2022/09/05/when-could-artemis-attempt-a-launch-next-here-are-the-possible-openings/

Sept. 4: Live Interview on BBC Breakfast about 2nd Artemis 1 scrub and whats ahead with repairs and launch opportunities:

https://youtu.be/Fhr__Df0-y8

Aug 31: Live Interview on BBC Breakfast about Artemis 1 scrub and whats ahead with launch reset to Sep 3

https://youtu.be/WsYXMJAwLPE

Aug 31:  Interview on BBC 5 Live Radio about Artemis 1 scrub and whats ahead with launch reset to Sep 3

Starts at about the 55 minute point

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001bkc1

Aug 30:  Live Interview on BBC Breakfast about Artemis 1 scrub and whats ahead:

https://youtu.be/0bLhrascB0Q

Aug 30:  Interview on WFTV Channel 9 ABC Orlando about Artemis 1 scrub and whats ahead :

https://www.wftv.com/news/video-nasa-crews-evaluating-artemis-1-scrubbed-launch-attempt/05348583-b9be-440f-afd9-9cb52cfa894a/

Aug 30: 3 different anchor and reporter interviews on Fox 35 Orlando about Artemis 1 scrub and whats ahead:

“Ken Kremer, research scientist and founder/managing editor of Space UpClose, discusses the upcoming launch of Artemis l after being scrubbed on Monday.”

https://www.fox35orlando.com/video/1111720

Aug 29: Two Prescrub interviews on BBC World TV and BBC TV about Artemis 1 launch attempt on Aug 29

 

Aug 29:  Pre and Post Artemis 1 scrub interviews on NewsNation

https://www.newsnationnow.com/space/nasa-artemis-1-launch/

Aug 29:  Pre and Post scrub interviews on Fox 35 Orlando

Aug 29: Post scrub interview on WKMG CBS 6 Orlando:

Aug 28: Preview to Artemis 1 launch my live half hour interview on WKMG CBS 6 Orlando with news anchor Justin Warmoth on ‘The Weekly’:

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2022/08/29/little-margin-for-error-nasa-faces-pressure-over-artemis-mission/

Aug 27: Interview on WFTV Channel 9 ABC Orlando about Artemis 1

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/space-coast-is-getting-ready-artemis-i-launch-this-weekend/CNZ2AIOJYRC4XMGC7Y2HIBAYVU/

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis, SpaceX missions, 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.
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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

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Upcoming and recent space events and talks by Ken Kremer & Jean Wright

Sep 2, 4, 9,10,13  from 7 to 9 PM Quality Inn, Titusville, FL:  Join Ken and Jean for Artemis 1 outreach. ask us anything. plus display our photos and space apparel items for sale

Ken’s space/rocket photos & Jean’s  custom sewn space apparel and space items for sale to support our ad free space news website: SpaceUpClose.com

Aug 11: Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, St Johnsbury, VT

https://www.fairbanksmuseum.org/blog/eyewitness-to-nasa/

“Eyewitness to NASA Human and Robotic Explorers”

Aug 19: McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Concord, NH

https://www.starhop.com/special-programs

“Sew Sister to the Stars: How the Humble Art of Sewing Transformed the World of Flight”

Contact us if you wish to meet, attend a talk or schedule a talk

Ken’s space/rocket photos & Jean’s  custom sewn space apparel and space items for sale to support our ad free space news website: SpaceUpClose.com

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen up close atop Launch Complex 39B, for the first time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, April 21, 2022 after first ever rollout from the VAB on March 17 for launch on the unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar mission NET Summer 2022. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

 

Ken Kremer and Jean Wright of Space UpClose reporting about NASA’s unpiloted Artemis 1 lunar test flight mission from Launch Complex 39B, at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. 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.

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