CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A massive wet dress rehearsal for a rocket and spacecraft that could return astronauts to the moon was scrubbed again Monday for issues unrelated to Sunday's delay.
NASA said Monday afternoon that just prior to sending liquid hydrogen into the vehicle, the team was unable to open a necessary vent valve on the launcher. Crews worked to fix the issue, but the director ended up calling off the test for the day.
The test was halted Sunday afternoon due to the loss of ability to pressurize the mobile launcher using two fans, according to NASA. Those fans are detrimental in providing positive pressure to enclosed areas within the mobile launcher to keep out hazardous gasses.
Without those, NASA technicians were unable to safely continue with loading the propellants into the rocket's core and interim cryogenic propulsion stages and the event was scrubbed and rescheduled to start on Monday.
"Turnaround ops went well last night and the team is in good shape in preps for tanking," NASA said in a tweet Monday morning.
On Sunday, crews worked through the issues, prompting a delay in their scheduled test time. They say that this is why they have dress rehearsals, and in doing so, they can work through all problems that they wouldn't usually be able to on launch day.
NASA says their teams are carrying out operations as they would on launch day during this practice simulation.
The wet dress rehearsal began on Friday afternoon with hopes for a Sunday conclusion to a countdown that would end seconds before the rocket's ignition.
In preparation for the rehearsal, the massive rocket was moved to launchpad 39B in March and will remain there until the test concludes.
Crews will load propellants into the rocket, conduct the countdown and then practice removing the fuel.
Teams will even practice filling the sound suppression system with water even though the engines will not fire during the test.
After the wet dress rehearsal, NASA says the rocket will be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for preparations for an actual launch.
So far, the agency has not finalized a launch date for the Artemis I mission, but it appears to be targeting an uncrewed launch in June.
If the Artemis I mission is successful, it could pave the way for a subsequent mission with a crew.
The space agency says it hopes to return to the moon no earlier than 2025.