NASA’s Retest of Artemis 1 Rocket Engines Is a Success

by Victoria Santiago

All of NASA’s core stage rocket engines that will be used for the Artemis 1 mission have successfully completed testing. The engines were tested earlier this month by NASA and the engine-maker. They had to be retested due to a faulty control mechanism being replaced.

The Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket is powered by four RS-25 engines, which are made by Aerojet Rocketdyne. They’re a type of legacy technology from the space shuttle era. The engine controllers communicate with the rest of the rocket. They provide precision control and internal health diagnostics.

Artemis 1 Launch Was Delayed Due to Faulty Rocket Engine

The faulty controller was on RS-25 engine number four. It was caused by a faulty memory chip. It’s only used during the start-up sequence. After that, it has no impact on controller operations. Engineers didn’t see any evidence of fault memory chips on the other three engines.

However, the discovery of this one mechanical issue forced NASA to delay its Artemis 1 mission. The mission will send an uncrewed rocket to the moon. It’s the first of a series of missions, which will ultimately end up sending humans back to the moon.

Due to this setback, the Artemis 1 launch has now been pushed back to at least April, at the very earliest.

More Tests To Come

Before Artemis 1 can launch, a wet dress rehearsal test needs to be completed. Since there were no other issues with the SLS rocket engines, the wet dress rehearsal will go ahead as planned. Currently, NASA has teams at the Kennedy Space Center preparing. They’ll have to complete pre-flight diagnostic tests, which include testing the flight termination system and installing instrumentation on the twin solid rocket boosters.

The wet dress rehearsal test is scheduled for March. Then, the SLS moon rocket will be rolled out to Launch Pad 39B. There, teams will fuel the rocket and run through the pre-launch sequence. The test will last all the way to the countdown. The wet dress rehearsal test is used to make sure that the SLS rocket is performing as expected. On top of that, it also tests the Orion space capsule and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center. According to Space, the test is absolutely essential. NASA will only set a launch date for the Artemis 1 moon mission after a wet dress rehearsal is successfully completed.

NASA and SpaceX Race To Land On the Moon

SpaceX is also gearing up for a moon mission. Elon Musk recently announced that his Starship is almost ready to go into orbit. Eventually, the Starship will be used to go to the moon and beyond. SpaceX has a shorter timeline than NASA does, and their rocket costs less. Thus, many are wondering how the launch of Starship will affect the space industry. Now that NASA’s Artemis 1 mission is back on track, we’re sure to see some interesting developments soon.