WASHINGTON – Just days after NASA said it was ready to conduct a second static fire test of the core stage of the Space Launch System, the agency announced on February 22 that the test would be delayed due to a problem in the valve.
NASA said it would postpone the Green Run static fire test, which had been scheduled for February 25, after discovering a problem with one of the eight valves called “pre-valves” associated with the four RS-25 main stage engines. . The valve, which supplies liquid oxygen, “was not working properly,” NASA said in a statement, but did not elaborate on the problem.
Engineers identified the problem during preparations over the weekend for the test. NASA said it will work with Boeing, the core-stage prime contractor, to “identify a way forward in the coming days and reschedule the hot fire test,” but did not set a new date for the test.
This is not the first time a valve problem has delayed the center stage green test run. In November, NASA reported a problem with a liquid hydrogen pre-valve in the center stage, which required workers to design a special tool to repair the valve on the test bench. That, along with the effects of a tropical storm that passed through the Stennis Space Center in late October, delayed the stage’s wet dress rehearsal by several weeks, where the stage charges with propellant and goes through a practice countdown.
The latest delay announcement came just three days after NASA and industry officials held a briefing in which they expressed confidence that they were ready to conduct the static fire test on February 25. weather at the Mississippi test site.
“The team has been working very hard in some difficult situations. We are well on our way to 25th, ”said John Shannon, vice president and SLS program manager at Boeing, during the briefing.
In the same briefing, NASA officials said they remained cautiously optimistic that SLS could make its first launch on the Artemis 1 mission, an unmanned test flight of the Orion spacecraft, before the end of the year despite of the long delays in the Green Run test campaign. Tom Whitmeyer, deputy deputy administrator for exploration systems development at NASA Headquarters, said the mission could launch in October if all went well, then admitted there were likely problems along the way.
“First of all, we really need to get past this hot fire,” he said, referring to the Green Run static fire test. “That is the most important thing we have in front of us.”