WASHINGTON — Simply days after NASA mentioned it was able to carry out a second static-fire take a look at of the House Launch System core stage, the company introduced Feb. 22 that the take a look at could be delayed due to a valve downside.
NASA mentioned it was suspending the Inexperienced Run static-fire take a look at, which had been scheduled for Feb. 25, after discovering an issue with considered one of eight valves known as “prevalves” related to the stage’s 4 RS-25 foremost engines. The valve, which provides liquid oxygen, was “not working correctly,” NASA mentioned in a press release, however didn’t elaborate on the issue.
Engineers recognized the issue throughout preparations over the weekend for the take a look at. NASA mentioned it should work with Boeing, the prime contractor for the core stage, to “determine a path ahead within the days forward and reschedule the recent hearth take a look at” however didn’t set a brand new date for the take a look at.
This isn’t the primary time an issue with valves delayed Inexperienced Run testing of the core stage. In November, NASA reported an issue with a liquid hydrogen prevalve on the core stage, which required employees to design a particular software to restore the valve on the take a look at stand. That, together with the results of a tropical storm that handed by the Stennis House Middle in late October, delayed by a number of weeks the stage’s moist costume rehearsal, the place the stage is loaded with propellant and goes by way of a apply countdown.
The announcement of the newest delay got here simply three days after NASA and trade officers held a briefing the place they expressed confidence that they were ready to perform the static-fire test on Feb. 25. That included overcoming points related to latest winter storms and unseasonably chilly climate on the Mississippi take a look at website.
“The group has been working very exhausting round some troublesome conditions. We’re on a fairly good monitor to make the 25th,” mentioned John Shannon, vp and SLS program supervisor at Boeing, through the briefing.
On the identical briefing NASA officers mentioned that they remained cautiously optimistic that SLS may make its first launch on the Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed take a look at flight of the Orion spacecraft, earlier than the top of the yr regardless of prolonged delays within the Inexperienced Run take a look at marketing campaign. Tom Whitmeyer, deputy affiliate administrator for exploration programs improvement at NASA Headquarters, mentioned that the mission may launch as quickly as October if every little thing went properly, then admitted that it was doubtless there could be issues alongside the best way.
“To start with, we actually must get this hotfire behind us,” he mentioned, referring to the Inexperienced Run static-fire take a look at. “That’s a very powerful factor we’ve got in entrance of us.”