Four lightning strikes hit the Space Launch System’s lightning towers over the weekend as NASA continued to perform its wet dress rehearsals for its upcoming Artemis I program, the space agency said in a press release.
NASA plans to send a woman & a person of color to the moon by 2025 as part of its Artemis program, and plans to send a mission next month using dummy torsos and life-size manikins to measure the levels of radiation astronauts are likely to face during the mission. In preparation for this mission, NASA has scheduled a dress rehearsal on its launch pad 39B between April 1 and 5, during which the huge rocket will be refueled with liquid fuel.
On April 2, NASA confirmed that 3 minor lightning strikes had struck the launch site. Lightning towers, built alongside the rockets for essentially for this purpose, took the hits of low-intensity lightning. A fourth bolt of higher intensity struck tower one, when core stage of the rocket & Orion spacecraft in which crew is scheduled to travel were powered-up.
After reviewing the data, the NASA team decided to continue testing and put in a few extra hours to make up for lost time due to bad weather. However, several other setbacks hit the dress rehearsal, the space agency confirmed in the following days.
Issues that affected Artemis wet dress rehearsal
On April 3, 2 fans pressurizing the mobile launcher and keeping out hazardous gases-out failed, preventing technicians from loading liquid propellants into the rocket’s core & interim propulsion stages, NASA said in another post.
After the fan issue was resolved, a valve issue in ground equipment halted the refueling attempt, NASA wrote in a tweet.
This was NASA’s second attempt to fuel rocket stages. Although the team was able to complete the refueling attempt, they managed to develop a new method for loading the liquid oxygen and filled it to 50% before the attempt had to be aborted.
It is not yet clear whether the space agency will carry-out 3rd attempt to refuel the rocket on Tuesday. The wet dress rehearsal has already pushed a private launch mission to the ISS, Space.com reported.