The critical test, known as the rehearsal, simulates each launch stage without the rocket leaving the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
This process includes loading ultra-cooled propellants, performing a complete countdown simulating a launch, resetting the countdown clock, and draining the missile tanks.
The results of training in wet clothes will determine when Artemis I will embark on a mission beyond the Moon and back to Earth. This mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first people of color on the moon by 2025.
Three previous attempts at rehearsal in April were unsuccessful, and ended before the rocket was fully loaded with fuel due to various leaks, which according to NASA have since been corrected.
Wet rehearsal: what to expect
The Artemis Rocket will begin its next attempt at rehearsal on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. With a ‘stations call’, when all teams associated with the task report on their readiness to start testing.
Preparations over the weekend will see the Artemis team begin loading fuel into the rocket’s primary stage and upper stage on Monday, June 20.
A two-hour testing window will begin in the afternoon, with Artemis targeting the first countdown at 2:40 p.m. ET.
First, they will count down to 33 seconds before launch, then stop the cycle. The clock will reset, then the countdown resumes again and lasts until about 10 seconds before the launch occurs.
Previous attempts at wet-weather training have already completed several goals on the list to prepare the rocket for launch, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch manager for NASA’s Earth Exploration Systems Program, said during a press conference Wednesday.
“Hopefully we can finish it this time and finish the cryogenic loadings along with the final count,” she said. “Our team is ready to go and we look forward to returning to this test.”
Once the Artemis rocket group completes its rehearsal, it will return to the Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building to wait for launch day.
There is a long history behind the arduous process of testing new systems before a rocket is launched, and what the Artemis team faces is similar to what the Apollo and Shuttle Castle teams faced, including multiple test attempts and delays before launch.
“Not a single person on the team abdicates the responsibility we have to manage ourselves and our contractors and deliver, and deliver, the means that meet these flight test objectives for (Artemis I), and meet those of Artemis I,” said Jim Frey, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, during the press conference.
“Extreme travel lover. Bacon fanatic. Troublemaker. Introvert. Passionate music fanatic.”