cape canaveral, florida – NASA’s New Moon rocket developed another fuel leak Wednesday as engineers tested the plumbing ahead of a launch attempt as early as next week.
Despite new seals and other repairs, the all-day demonstration had barely begun when dangerous hydrogen fuel began leaking in the same place and same time as before. The engineer stopped the flow, warmed the line in hopes of plugging the leak, and continued testing.
Wednesday’s results will determine whether the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket is ready for its first test flight, a mission to orbit the moon with mannequins instead of astronauts.
A hydrogen leak ruined the first two launch attempts and an earlier countdown test. So much hydrogen was released during the countdown earlier this month that it exceeded NASA limits by more than twice his. Wednesday’s leak hit the limit, but the launch team was able to bring it down to acceptable levels as testing continues.
After the last delay, NASA replaced two seals. One had a small dent. It was only one hundredth of an inch.
“That doesn’t sound like much, but again, we’re dealing with hydrogen, the smallest element on the periodic table,” said mission manager Mike Sarafin.
Wednesday’s goal: Get about 1 million gallons (4 million liters) into the rocket while minimizing leaks. That puts NASA on track for a possible launch on Tuesday if the U.S. Space Force extends certification of the onboard battery, which is part of its flight safety system.
In addition to replacing the seals, NASA changed the fueling process to start loading cryogenic liquid hydrogen and oxygen more slowly. After Wednesday’s leak, the launch team moved even more slowly to further reduce stress on the plumbing.
After the rocket launches, the crew capsule on top of the rocket will orbit the moon for the first time in 50 years. The $4.1 billion mission will last him more than five weeks and will end with a water landing in the Pacific Ocean. The astronaut will be on board for his second test flight to gallop around the Moon in 2024. His third mission, targeted for 2025, will actually land two astronauts on the moon.
NASA’s Space Launch Systems rocket is more powerful than the Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The engine and boosters are carryovers from the now-retired Space Shuttle. Much like now, NASA was plagued by elusive hydrogen leaks during the shuttle era, especially in his early 1990s.
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https://www.local10.com/tech/2022/09/21/nasa-fuels-moon-rocket-in-leak-test-ahead-of-next-launch-try/ NASA Tests to Fuel Moon Rocket, but Leak Recurs