When is the NASA SLS launch date?

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Antares JS

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Congress chose the motors?
Really?
Kinda doubt that .... instead they constrained the budget.

If they indeed mandated the engines, you would think they would have learned their lesson with the O-Rings..............
Stupid is as stupid does.....

Yes, congress mandated that the SLS recycle shuttle hardware, including the engines, in order to keep shuttle workers employed. NASA does not get a budget that it then gets to spend however it wants. Congress mandates how every dollar is spent.

The O-rings have nothing to do with the SSME. The O-rings that led to the Challenger incident were in the solid rocket boosters, and the problem is a solved one, whose solution is implemented on the SLS boosters. They are not relevant to the plumbing problems NASA is experiencing at the moment.
 

Scott_650

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Congress chose the motors?
Really?
Kinda doubt that .... instead they constrained the budget.

If they indeed mandated the engines, you would think they would have learned their lesson with the O-Rings..............
Stupid is as stupid does.....
The SLS is a massive compromise - in concept, the idea of using well established technology from the STS program sounds perfectly reasonable. In practice there was too much focus on preserving the aerospace industry (and bureaucracy that supported it) rather than building the best rocket for the job.

It all ended up being very short-sighted - maintaining the industrial capabilities that built and supported the Shuttle may very well have been a worthwhile thing to do but it’s definitely arguable we spent way more than it’s worth doing it. And “the job” itself ended up being subject to a bunch of “mission drift” - tough enough to be an effective and efficient “alphabet agency” but a constantly changing goalpost makes any kind of satisfying scoring play impossible. Did the payload drive the lift capability or did the payload metastasize based on what the various iterations of the rocket could lift?

Add in the near past history of commercial spaceflight - very few people saw the development of a private launch industry coming as fast as it did when NASA started work on Ares/Constellation/SLS after Congress passed Public Law 111–267 in 2010 - and it’s easy to snipe at NASA in hindsight but not entirely fair. On the other hand, NASA didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory during the last 10 years building their new heavy lifter - the time and money spent don’t exactly equal the results.
 

boatgeek

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The SLS is a massive compromise - in concept, the idea of using well established technology from the STS program sounds perfectly reasonable. In practice there was too much focus on preserving the aerospace industry (and bureaucracy that supported it) rather than building the best rocket for the job.

It all ended up being very short-sighted - maintaining the industrial capabilities that built and supported the Shuttle may very well have been a worthwhile thing to do but it’s definitely arguable we spent way more than it’s worth doing it. And “the job” itself ended up being subject to a bunch of “mission drift” - tough enough to be an effective and efficient “alphabet agency” but a constantly changing goalpost makes any kind of satisfying scoring play impossible. Did the payload drive the lift capability or did the payload metastasize based on what the various iterations of the rocket could lift?

Add in the near past history of commercial spaceflight - very few people saw the development of a private launch industry coming as fast as it did when NASA started work on Ares/Constellation/SLS after Congress passed Public Law 111–267 in 2010 - and it’s easy to snipe at NASA in hindsight but not entirely fair. On the other hand, NASA didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory during the last 10 years building their new heavy lifter - the time and money spent don’t exactly equal the results.
Adding to the trouble is that some of the decisions are what sound good to a layman but are awful in practice. For example, Congress mandated that SLS re-use the shuttle side boosters. When someone pointed out that the boosters weren't powerful enough to do the job, the mandate just shifted to adding another fuel grain. Everyone here knows that "just add another fuel grain" is a massive redesign that isn't going to save you any money, but it sounds easy to a Congresscritter's staff. And, of course, kept that production line rolling for a while making new test articles, not to mention the final product.
 

modeltrains

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Congress chose the motors?
Really?
Kinda doubt that .... instead they constrained the budget.
Well ...
NASA's New Rocket: Will Congress's Pet Project Fly?
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/nasas-new-rocket-will-congresss-pet-project-fly/
"
... The lawmakers even dictated performance metrics for the rocket—an initial launch capacity of 70 to 100 tons, expandable to at least 130 tons—lest NASA should design a rocket to meet its own objectives. Congress also dictated that wherever possible the SLS should include technology from the space shuttle, whose own design comes from the 1970s, and from Constellation. (In fact, some commentators have remarked that the SLS closely resembles the heavy-lift rocket of the troubled Constellation program.)

So why did elected officials decide to play rocket scientist, calling the SLS into existence and sketching out its design by writ of law? A hint can be found in the statement issued Wednesday by NASA. "This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure continued U.S. leadership in space, and inspire millions around the world," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. Note that jobs came first, and exploration second. ...
"
And ...

"
NASA seems to have pushed back at first. The space agency issued a report in January expressing doubts that the SLS could be ready by 2016 and questioning whether the rocket would meet Bolden's pledge to undertake projects that are "affordable, sustainable, and realistic." Hutchison has not been pleased with such demurrals. "The political leadership at NASA and at [the White House Office of Management and Budget] has dragged their feet on implementation," she said in a statement last month. "After many requests for NASA to comply with the law, the Commerce Committee finally initiated a formal investigation earlier this summer."
"
 

modeltrains

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Congress chose the motors?
Really?
Kinda doubt that .... instead they constrained the budget.
See also: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-111publ267/html/PLAW-111publ267.htm

"
SEC. 302. <<NOTE: 42 USC 18322.>> SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM AS FOLLOW-ON
LAUNCH VEHICLE TO THE SPACE SHUTTLE.

(a) United States Policy.--It is the policy of the United States
that NASA develop a Space Launch System as a follow-on to the Space
Shuttle that can access cis-lunar space and the regions of space beyond
low-Earth orbit in order to enable the United States to participate in
global efforts to access and develop this increasingly strategic region.
(b) Initiation of Development.--

[[Page 124 STAT. 2815]]

(1) In general.--The Administrator shall, as soon as
practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act,
initiate development of a Space Launch System meeting the
minimum capabilities requirements specified in subsection (c).
(2) Modification of current contracts.--In order to limit
NASA's termination liability costs and support critical
capabilities, the Administrator shall, to the extent
practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and
associated contracts necessary to meet the requirements in
paragraph (1), including contracts for ground testing of solid
rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for
development of the Space Launch System.

(c) Minimum Capability Requirements.--
(1) In general.--The Space Launch System developed pursuant
to subsection (b) shall be designed to have, at a minimum, the
following:
(A) The initial capability of the core elements,
without an upper stage, of lifting payloads weighing
between 70 tons and 100 tons into low-Earth orbit in
preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth
orbit.
(B) The capability to carry an integrated upper
Earth departure stage bringing the total lift capability
of the Space Launch System to 130 tons or more.
(C) The capability to lift the multipurpose crew
vehicle.
(D) The capability to serve as a backup system for
supplying and supporting ISS cargo requirements or crew
delivery requirements not otherwise met by available
commercial or partner-supplied vehicles.
(2) Flexibility.--The Space Launch System shall be designed
from inception as a fully-integrated vehicle capable of carrying
a total payload of 130 tons or more into low-Earth orbit in
preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The
Space Launch System shall, to the extent practicable,
incorporate capabilities for evolutionary growth to carry
heavier payloads. Developmental work and testing of the core
elements and the upper stage should proceed in parallel subject
to appropriations. Priority should <<NOTE: Deadline.>> be placed
on the core elements with the goal for operational capability
for the core elements not later than December 31, 2016.
(3) Transition needs.--The Administrator shall ensure
critical skills and capabilities are retained, modified, and
developed, as appropriate, in areas related to solid and liquid
engines, large diameter fuel tanks, rocket propulsion, and other
ground test capabilities for an effective transition to the
follow-on Space Launch System.
(4) The capacity for efficient and timely evolution,
including the incorporation of new technologies, competition of
sub-elements, and commercial operations.
"

And ...

"
SEC. 309. REPORT <<NOTE: 42 USC 18327.>> REQUIREMENT.

Within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, or upon
completion of reference designs for the Space Launch System and Multi-
purpose Crew Vehicle authorized by this Act, whichever occurs first, the
Administrator shall provide a detailed report to the appropriate
committees of Congress that provides an overall description of the
reference vehicle design, the assumptions, description, data, and
analysis of the systems trades and resolution process, justification of
trade decisions, the design factors which implement the essential system
and vehicle capability requirements established by this Act, the
explanation and justification of any deviations from those requirements,
the plan for utilization of existing contracts, civil service and
contract workforce, supporting infrastructure utilization and
modifications, and procurement strategy to expedite development
activities through modification of existing contract vehicles, and the
schedule of design and development milestones and related schedules
leading to the accomplishment of operational goals established by this
Act. The Administrator shall provide an update of this report as part of
the President's annual Budget Request.
"
 

georgegassaway

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So keeping H2 in is tricky. Why do they have to roll the entire stack out to check the connections? Do they have test jigs that can be fitted in place, as a proxy for the real thing?
Two things:

#1 - Are you kidding? No way in H*** would they ever load cryogenic fuels inside of the VAB! And cryogenic testing is the only valid way to test for such a leak, any simple pressure test at ambient temperature would not mean much.

#2 - Test using the real hardware The problem is at a tail service mast umbilical, near the base of the core booster. That service mast is attached to the mobile launcher. In other words, it is attached to the same launch platform that SLS is attached to when it is rolled to the pad and back. Why use a "test jig" (requiring removing of the real thing in order to make it fit, if even possible which I doubt) , when the real thing is already there and is far better for real-world testing than a special piece of test hardware?

"Teams concluded today’s wet dress rehearsal test at approximately 5:10 p.m. EDT after observing a liquid hydrogen (LH2) leak on the tail service mast umbilical, which is located at the base of the mobile launcher and connects to the rocket’s core stage. The leak was discovered during liquid hydrogen loading operations and prevented the team from completing the test."

The above quote, from this article:

 

OverTheTop

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This is big engineering. They need big, complex, expensive jigs. This exercise of trotting out everything, and back, might have been avoided. A risk was accepted and in this case it bit back.
 

georgegassaway

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This is big engineering. They need big, complex, expensive jigs. This exercise of trotting out everything, and back, might have been avoided. A risk was accepted and in this case it bit back.
RE-read the article in my message above yours, because I think you are misunderstanding.

Let it sink in.

This stuff about "jigs", makes no sense.

The area with the problem was hooked up from the MLP to the SLS while it was inside the VAB, and rolled out to the pad still attached, as would be expected. "jigs" would not be of any use in detecting or solving the problem.

At least, not unless the entire tail service mast assembly was removed, and then that assembly taken elsewhere to be put into the assembly jig it was constructed on (if that was how it was built), and checked for errors. Except, the cause of the problem is not likely to be related to that at all, it is likely involving a flaw with some connector, or interface for that connector, which a huge jig of the whole tail service mast would be useless in tracking down. Also, that connector interface may be on the SLS side, not the Tail Service Mast side.

They cannot test for cryogenic LH2 issues inside of the VAB, incredibly dangerous, which would risk loss of the entire VAB. That testing has to be done at the pad.

When the MLP with SLS and its tower get rolled out to the pad, and it finally gets there and is bolted down, the only thing related to the cryogenic fuel connections that are hooked up, are the feed lines into the MLP itself, not SLS. Because AFAIK, those SLS connections....are already hooked up while inside the VAB.
 

OverTheTop

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RE-read the article in my message above yours, because I think you are misunderstanding.

Let it sink in.

This stuff about "jigs", makes no sense.

The area with the problem was hooked up from the MLP to the SLS while it was inside the VAB, and rolled out to the pad still attached, as would be expected. "jigs" would not be of any use in detecting or solving the problem.

At least, not unless the entire tail service mast assembly was removed, and then that assembly taken elsewhere to be put into the assembly jig it was constructed on (if that was how it was built), and checked for errors. Except, the cause of the problem is not likely to be related to that at all, it is likely involving a flaw with some connector, or interface for that connector, which a huge jig of the whole tail service mast would be useless in tracking down. Also, that connector interface may be on the SLS side, not the Tail Service Mast side.

They cannot test for cryogenic LH2 issues inside of the VAB, incredibly dangerous, which would risk loss of the entire VAB. That testing has to be done at the pad.

When the MLP with SLS and its tower get rolled out to the pad, and it finally gets there and is bolted down, the only thing related to the cryogenic fuel connections that are hooked up, are the feed lines into the MLP itself, not SLS. Because AFAIK, those SLS connections....are already hooked up while inside the VAB.
I can read. Thanks for asking.

I didn't say the jigs would be easy or inexpensive. There is nearly always a way of testing if somebody wants to put the effort in. They took a chance to save money and/or effort and paid the price IMHO.

Maybe you are just thinking like a government project contractor. Think engineering instead. Big engineering requires big thinking and spending money on jigs that might only be used once or twice. Think of the time (and time does indeed equal money in this case) that could have been saved.
 

Rory Gin

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Artemis 1 will have a large amount of sensors, human-like bodies to capture all kinds of data related to radiation, plus 4 secondary payloads of about 30 lbs each are to be released.

Scientists are working to understand space radiation as NASA prepares to take astronauts beyond Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field to the Moon and beyond. Without adequate protection, space radiation can pose a significant threat to the human body. Humans exposed to large amounts of radiation can experience both acute and chronic health problems ranging from near-term radiation sickness to the potential of developing cancer in the long-term. In addition to the effects on the body, space radiation can also interfere with and damage spacecraft electronics systems. NASA’s Artemis I flight test will include several instruments and investigations aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft to study the radiation environment of deep space that is present for missions to the Moon and beyond.
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/artemis-i-space-radiation-research-to-help-moon-mars-explorers
 

Peartree

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Aaaaaand, it rolls back to the VAB again today.

Now... *maybe* August.
 

Scott_650

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Aaaaaand, it rolls back to the VAB again today.

Now... *maybe* August.
They could hit the July-August launch window - if everything goes well in the VAB and if everything goes well with the next WDR and if the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch of Psyche on pad 39A goes as planned…lots of “ifs” there so John is most likely right that August is as good as it’s going to get. I don’t know how close together they could launch that Heavy and the SLS but that sure would be something if they both went up within a couple days of each other.

As much as it might hurt NASA’s credibility I’m kind of hoping for September - not quite as brutally hot then like it is in August so hanging out on the beach waiting to watch this thing fly would be a bit more fun!
 
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NASA is saying that the 4th attempt at a wet dress rehearsal yesterday was a success.
There were some issues, but they were able to fully fuel the rocket and proceed to T-29 in the launch sequence.
The team has to look at the data and decide whether to proceed with a late August/early September launch.
 

Rory Gin

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NASA is saying that the 4th attempt at a wet dress rehearsal yesterday was a success.
There were some issues, but they were able to fully fuel the rocket and proceed to T-29 in the launch sequence.
The team has to look at the data and decide whether to proceed with a late August/early September launch.
I was watching the live feed yesterday. It looks like the problem was not with the main loading valves this time. "A built-in countdown hold went into effect early this morning and was expected to last 1.5 hours. During that time, mission managers conducted weather and vehicle tanking briefings and had originally received a "go" from Blackwell-Thompson, but the hold was extended when operators encountered an issue with a supply valve in Pad 39B's redundant gaseous nitrogen system. According to Derrol Nail, NASA spokesperson on the agency's live broadcast for the wet dress, the valve "would not close," though the malfunction was "not with the actual valve itself, but with the controller." They were scheduled to do the WDR 2x from the T-10:00 mark but only completed it once due to the extended day that everyone was put through.

The Artemis 1 moon rocket could lift off for a round-the-moon mission as soon as July 26, although the agency has plotted out dozens of launch possibilities (opens in new tab) between then and December 22, with even more launch options to the moon through June 2023.

Here's a look at the launch windows remaining in 2022.
  • July 26 – Aug. 10: 13 launch opportunities, excluding Aug. 1, 2, and 6;
  • Aug. 23 – Sept. 6: 12 launch opportunities, excluding Aug. 30, 31, and Sept. 1; <<---- Most likely launch window.
  • Sept. 20 – Oct. 4: 14 launch opportunities, excluding Sept. 29;
  • Oct. 17 – Oct. 31:11 launch opportunities, excluding Oct. 24, 25, 26, and 28;
  • Nov. 12 – Nov. 27: 12 launch opportunities, excluding Nov. 20, 21, and 26;
  • Dec. 9 – Dec. 23: 11 launch opportunities, excluding Dec. 10, 14, 18, and 23;
 

cls

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July 20th would be a really great day to return to the moon.
 
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NASA has scheduled a media teleconference for tomorrow to discuss the status of Artemis 1.
According to this release, the testing has been deemed complete.
The stack goes back to the VAB for launch preparation and to repair a leak found during the last WDR. NASA is planning on a launch date in late August.
Soon, folks, soon.
 
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