NASA’s fourth attempt to complete a crucial test for the rocket it plans to send to the moon has met about 90% of its goals, officials said on Tuesday. However, there is still no date set for takeoff.
“I’d say we’re about 90% of what we need in general,” Artemis mission director Mike Sarafin told reporters.
This is the last test that the American space agency will carry out before the Artemis-1 mission, scheduled for this summer in the northern hemisphere: a lunar flight without passengers. The test will then be followed by another flight with a capsule carrying humans, but that will likely not happen before 2026.
The teams at the Kennedy Space Center began tests on Saturday (18) with one objective: to fill the SLS rocket’s tanks with liquid fuel, start the countdown to takeoff, simulate unforeseen events and, finally, empty the tanks.
In the previous three attempts the problems multiplied and it was impossible to fill the rocket with hundreds of thousands of gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen and oxygen.
On Monday, engineers were finally able to fill the tanks, but they also had to deal with a new hydrogen leak problem that they were unable to resolve.
NASA wants to establish a permanent presence on the Moon and use it as a testing ground for the technologies needed for a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.