NASA is returning the SLS Moon rocket for repair after numerous failed refueling tests

After numerous attempts to complete a critical test of refueling its next-generation space launch system, NASA decided to complete the “wet dress rehearsal” of the rocket at a later date. Late Saturday night, the agency announced it would move the SLS from the launch pad and back to the Kennedy Space Center’s vehicle assembly building to give time to one of the nitrogen gas suppliers to complete a critical upgrade. Nitrogen supply problems have delayed two previous rehearsals, according to Space News.

NASA will also use the opportunity to replace a defective helium check valve and repair minor hydrogen leak technicians found in one of the “umbilical” fuel lines passing from the rocket’s mobile launch tower. “During this time, the agency will also review schedules and options for demonstrating refueling operations before launch,” NASA said. He promised to share more information about the decision, as well as his plans for progress during a press conference scheduled for April 18th.

As of April 1, NASA has tried three times to complete a “wet dress rehearsal” for the Artemis 1 Moon mission. The test is designed to replicate the countdown procedure that SLS will undergo when the mission hopes to begin later this year. NASA recently attempted to complete a modified version of the test on April 14, but that attempt was halted after it discovered the aforementioned hydrogen leak in a mobile rocket launch tower. The agency initially left the door open for a new attempt on April 21, but then changed its mind.

The delay could have a domino effect on the Artemis 1 Moon timeline. NASA has not yet set a date for the flight and will not do so until the rehearsal of the SLS wet dress is over. Despite all the problems that NASA has faced with its next-generation rocket, the agency remains confident that it will fly. “There is no doubt that we will complete this test campaign and listen to the hardware and the data will take us to the next step,” Artemis launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said on Friday. “And we will take the appropriate steps and launch this vehicle.”