NASA is approaching its newest and one of the most exciting launches yet. The space company’s Orion Spacecraft sits on top of its powerful Space Launch System Rocket and is currently entering the final phase of tests and preparations for its upcoming launch.
The mission is dubbed Artemis I and will be launched into space for a flight test around the moon. The spacecraft will not have any passengers onboard to ensure that all safety precautions are met before the crew-filled Artemis II mission.
Artemis I is the first in a series of complex missions. That said, Artemis I will be the foundation to demonstrate human deep space exploration and will also emphasize NASA’s commitment and inclination to bring human life to the moon and beyond during the crew-filled Artemis II mission at a later date.
Photo by NASA
Now that stacking is complete, NASA will be executing a series of integrated tests before the mega-moon rocket reaches liftoff for deep space in February 2022.
“It’s hard to put into words what this milestone means, not only to us here at Exploration Ground Systems but to all the incredibly talented people who have worked so hard to help us get to this point,” said Exploration Ground Systems program manager Mike Bolger to Sci-Tech Daily. “Our team has demonstrated tremendous dedication preparing for the launch of Artemis I. While there is still work to be done to get to launch, with continued integrated tests and Wet Dress Rehearsal, seeing the fully stacked SLS is certainly a reward for all of us.”
Before liftoff, there are a variety of test campaigns set in place to evaluate the rocket and spacecraft to prepare for launch day. The first is Interface Verification Testing, which verifies the functionality of interfaces across the system. Next is Program Specific Engineer Testing to ensure the functionality of various systems.
Photo by NASA
They will then execute End-to-End Communications Testing to test radio frequencies from mission control to SLS, ICPS, and Orion, ensuring proper communication with ground control. Following this is Countdown Sequencing Testing to conduct a simulated launch countdown inside the VAB. Finally, they will execute a Wet Dress Rehearsal to demonstrate the ability to load cryogenic or supercold propellants into the Artemis I rocket at the launch pad.
Until the launch in February, Artemis I mission operation teams will continue more launch simulations to run the team through the process and ensure they’re ready for any scenario on launch day. Following a successful dress rehearsal, NASA will announce a set date in February for the Artemis I launch.