An eventful weekend at Kennedy Space Center in Florida delayed tests for the wet dress rehearsal of NASA's Space Launch System. In addition to dealing with multiple lightning strikes and malfunctioning ventilation fans, mission managers also found a problem with the gaseous nitrogen system.
At dawn on Monday, the decision to resume the tests was made. NASA Ground Systems said that the launch director would soon give the "go" for tanking and that the weather would not be a problem. The 322-foot tall rocket is currently on Launch Pad 39B at the space center and is ready to NASA teams to execute a full-fledged launch rehearsal that will stop 10 seconds prior to the ignition of four RS-25 engines.
When I read this article on Gizmodo today, I had to look up what the heck a "wet dress rehearsal was." I always enjoy a day where I can learn something new, and a bit of poking around availed me with an answer: a wet dress rehearsal is basically a simulation of almost the entire steps of a launch, minus the actual ignition.
This means that the test includes the loading of the tanks with fuel (hence the "wet" in the phrase). In the case of the SLS, this means more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic fuel (liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) will be loaded onto the rocket. Once loaded, NASA engineers will simulate a countdown to launch, halting just prior to ignition. The last component of the rehearsal will be the process of draining the fuel.
These tests are extremely important, because if the engineers are going to discover any faults in designs or procedures it's obviously better to find them now instead of the actual launch day. Live video of the wet dress rehearsal was available on the Kennedy Space Center's YouTube channel.
For more info on the Artemis mission and its objectives, check out NASA's blog here. We love watching a good space launch (test!) here at Stardock - how about you?