NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is seen at Launch Pad 39B Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as teams work to replace the seal on an interface, called the quick disconnect, between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line on the mobile launcher and the rocket.  Photo Credit: (NASA/Chad Siwik)

Engineers are making progress repairing the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was detected during the Artemis I launch attempt Sept. 3, and NASA is preserving options for the next launch opportunity as early as Friday, Sept. 23. 

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. 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 has submitted a request to the Eastern Range for an extension of the current testing requirement for the flight termination system. NASA is respecting the range’s processes for review of the request, and the agency continues to provide detailed information to support a range decision.  

In the meantime, NASA is instructing the Artemis team to move forward with all preparations required for testing, followed by launch, including preparations to ensure adequate supplies of propellants and gases used in tanking operations, as well as flight operations planning for the mission. NASA has requested the following launch opportunities: 

  • 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 

NASA’s teams internally are preparing to support additional dates in the event flexibility is required. The agency will evaluate and adjust launch opportunities and alternate dates based on progress at the pad and to align with other planned activities, including DART’s planned impact with an asteroid, the west coast launch of a government payload, and the launch of Crew-5 to the International Space Station. 

Listen to a replay of today’s media teleconference on the status of the Artemis I mission. Artemis I is an uncrewed flight test to provide a foundation for human exploration in deep space and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.  

Repair Work Underway, Preparations Continue for Next Launch Opportunity