Preparations for the first flight of the Space Launch System remain on track for a liftoff as soon as Aug. 29, NASA officials said Aug. 3.
NASA has reserved three days in late August and early September for the first launch of its Space Launch System rocket to send the Orion spacecraft to orbit around the moon and back.
NASA has tentatively scheduled the next attempt to fuel the Space Launch System and go through a practice countdown for June 19, two weeks after the vehicle returns to the launch pad.
NASA is gearing up to perform another practice countdown of the Space Launch System in mid-June as it completes repairs to the vehicle from previous tests.
NASA expects to be ready to perform another countdown rehearsal of the Space Launch System in early June as it pushes back the first launch of the vehicle to at least August.
NASA managers said a rollback of the Space Launch System from its launch pad after three truncated countdown tests will allow them to address issues both at the pad and with the vehicle, but that it was too early to predict what it would do to the schedule for the vehicle’s first launch.
NASA cut short a third attempt to load propellants onto the Space Launch System for a countdown rehearsal April 14 after encountering several problems, including a hydrogen leak.
NASA officials defended their decision to proceed with a modified version of a countdown rehearsal for the Space Launch System that does not involve fueling the rocket’s upper stage, saying they’ll wait until after the test to determine the next steps toward launch.
NASA expects to roll out the Space Launch System rocket for the first time in mid-March for a dress rehearsal of a launch that could come as soon as May but more likely some time in the summer.