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The first launch of the SLS is delayed due to a computer glitch with the engine

The initial launch of Space Launch System will be delayed until March due to a faulty computer that was in one of the 4 main engines. Late on December 17, NASA revealed that SLS engineers had determined that the controller for engine 4 in the core phase of the SLS needed to be replaced. Following evaluations of an integrated vehicle at Kennedy Space Center, one of the two redundant channels inside the controller declined to power up regularly.

During the core stage’s Green Run trial campaign at Stennis Space Center, which culminated in a full-duration static-fire assessment in March, that controller performed as expected. The root source of the problem was not discovered after an early inquiry. NASA said in a statement that the engine controller will be replaced, “restoring full functioning and redundancy to the rocket while proceeding to investigate and determine a root cause.”

NASA did not provide a timeline for the work, but it knocked out a deployment in the first window of February 12 to 27, as announced by the agency in October. “NASA is formulating a plan and updated timetable to substitute the engine controller in March and April while proceeding to integrated testing and considering launch possibilities,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA announced in October that the next launch windows after the February window are March 12 to 27 as well as April 8 to 23. The windows are determined by the SLS’s performance and mission requirements, like having the Orion spaceship splashdown in daylight.

Even before this latest setback, there were concerns that SLS would not be prepared when the first launch window opened on February 12th. Before the launch, NASA will transport the SLS to Launch Complex 39B for testing, which will include a wet dress rehearsal in which the rocket will be loaded with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants and will go through a rehearsal countdown that will end just before engine ignition.

According to industry sources, the rollout had to happen by the end of December in order to keep the February launch on track. However, as of December 10, NASA stated that the program would be launched in mid-January.

Annette Hasbrook, who is the current assistant manager in charge of program integration for NASA’s Orion program, stated rollout for wet dress rehearsal is expected for “early next year” during a talk about the Artemis project during the US Chamber of Commerce’s Launch webinar on December 16. The engine controller issue was not mentioned during the panel discussion, and it was said that Artemis 1 will launch in February.

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