Will this thing ever make it off the ground?!
During a crucial test over the weekend, NASA's long delayed, ultra-expensive Space Launch System (SLS) sprang a leak in a hydrogen fuel valve. This was the fourth try at what NASA calls a "wet dress" rehearsal for the Artemis 1 mission, of which the previous three attempts were considered failures due to other fueling issues.
Despite this most recent fuel fiasco — which caused Artemis personnel to cut the simulated launch short by about 20 seconds — this latest test was marked as a success.
"I would say that the majority of our objectives were met," said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA's Artemis launch director, during a post-test press conference. "There were maybe small pieces within that one primary objective that we came up a little short on."
The wet dress rehearsal is one of the final tests needed to clear a rocket for its maiden voyage, and NASA seems eager to get the colossal SLS spacecraft — originally slated to launch back in February 2022 — into the Moon's orbit.
After, NASA is still playing things pretty close to the vest with regards to the current Artemis 1 timetable.
"I don’t think we know yet," said Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems, when asked about the Artemis schedule during the same post-simulation briefing.
This seems to be the theme of the upcoming Artemis Moon missions, which recently leaked NASA documents suggest might be in general chaos overall.
Regardless, the Artemis 1 launch team appears to remain in good spirits.
"It's a great day for our team," said Blackwell-Thompson, during NASA's live wet dress webcast. "Definitely a good day for us and a very exciting day as well."
More on SLS woes: NASA's Absurdly Expensive SLS Megarocket Is Broken Again