NASA really wants to launch the Artemis I mission this month, but won’t rush repairs. Getting the Artemis Program on track is critical however.
With safety in mind, NASA wants to conduct a tanking test on September 17. Before that happens though they are in the process of replacing two seals, “one surrounding the 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the core stage, and another surrounding the 4-inch bleed line used to redirect some of the propellant during tanking operations.” To replace the seals they’ve “disconnected the ground- and rocket-side plates on the interface, called a quick disconnect, for the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line.”
To facilitate the replacement of the seals, and rather than taking the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, they opted instead to build a “a tent-like enclosure around the work area to protect the hardware and teams from weather and other environmental conditions at Launch Pad 39B.”
Once the seals are replaced NASA will conduct the tanking test on the Sept. 17. That test will have the Space Launch System’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage “loaded with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to validate the repair under the conditions it would experience on launch day.” NASA did note that the tanking test could slip a day or two and that it needs four days between the tanking test and launch attempt.
If all those the tests are successful they will proceed with the launch and NASA has identified two launch windows, Sept. 23 and 27. NASA first needs Eastern Range clearance and has requested clearance from the US Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 (formerly the 45th Space Wing).
The two hour launch window on Sept. 23 opens at 6:47 a.m. EDT. If NASA launches on this day, the Orion capsule will return on October 18.
A 70 minute launch window is available on Sept. 27 and opens at 11:37 a.m EDT and the Orion spacecraft would return on November 5.