Leak detected during Artemis I moon rocket test tanking process

Leak detected during Artemis I moon rocket test tanking process

NASA engineers hit a snag Wednesday morning during the test tanking of the Artemis I SLS rocket. But they were able to fix a leak and push forward.

Just after 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, a few hours into the test tanking process, a hydrogen leak was detected. It was very similar to what happened on the last launch attempt on Sept. 3. It happened at the same time in the tanking process too.

“We are in stop flow. For the liquid hydrogen side,” a NASA official said. “They did have the detection of a hydrogen leak in the tail service mast umbilical. It’s in the lower portion of the rocket.”

The launch team was transitioning from slow fill to fast fill of the supercooled liquid hydrogen.

The problem areas are the plates called the Quick Disconnect that hold the fuel lines, which go from the source into the SLS rocket’s core stage. They fall back just before launch.

So the engineers used a tactic attempted back on Sept. 3, allowing the Quick Disconnect to warm up, prompting the gap and causing the leak to “reseat.”

After lowering the pressure, it worked. There’s still a slight leak but within safety limits. That allowed the test to continue.

They filled both supercooled hydrogen and oxygen tanks in the core stage. It’s something they were not able to do on the last launch attempt.

NASA teams continue to pour through the data from this all-day test before seeing if the next launch attempt window, next Tuesday at 11:37 a.m., is still viable.

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