NASA Defends Sending a “Red Team” to Fix a Fuel Leak on an Artemis Rocket

NASA on Wednesday defended its decision to send a “red team” of technicians to a potentially explosion-hazardous area to fix a leak in the Artemis rocket supply system while the rocket was filling with fuel just before launch.

Questions were taken in the post-launch briefing by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin, Ground Systems Program Director Mike Bolger, Space Launch System Program Manager John Honeycutt of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and Orion capsule program manager Howard Hu. Emily Nelson, director of flight at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Bulger was asked about the hydrogen fuel leak and the decision to send a “red team” of specially trained technicians to fix it by tightening the nuts on the fuel valve. This decision meant operating next door to an almost fully fueled rocket, something the Red Team was trained to do.

Bulger said the team “realised we had a leak and were able to get a camera in although it wasn’t great. We could see some of the vapors. There were options where we wouldn’t have to send a red team in there…but the team…already wrote a procedure about how to do it.

“It was definitely a low-key moment when we first saw the leak,” Bolger said. “You all know we’ve had some hydrogen leaks that we’ve had in the past but a really high moment was when we realized we’d fixed the problem.”

Bolger said, “It’s always hard to do something to send the Red Team to the launchpad” and “None of us really thought that was the perfect response.

“You only do it when you feel you have to,” Bulger said, “but in this case, I think the team felt, really, our most likely case here was we had some loose nuts on those valves. And so we sent the team in and they did a great job and it got resolved. this is the problem “.

The briefing was opened by Mission Director Sarafin Shukr of the Marshall Center in Huntsville for its contribution to the launch. “I want to thank John Honeycutt and the Space Launch System Program for putting … the mission into the game,” he said, as well as (center director) Jody Singer at the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Marshall team. They’ve done a great job up to this point.”

Marshall is NASA’s primary hub for the development of propulsion systems, including the Saturn V rockets, space shuttle engines and boosters, and now the Artemis space launch system.

“It’s been a little over 12 years since I’ve tried this,” Honeycutt said, referring to the last shuttle launch, “It’s great to be back in business doing this.

Emily Nelson, director of flight at Johnson Space Center, was asked about her reaction to the large number of women active in the launch program, including launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson.

“I think my sentiments are well matched, not only by everyone at this table, but probably everyone who’s been watching whether or not they work,” Nelson said. “There was an enormous amount of pride, there was a great deal of awe, and that pride is not only in the individuals we know and friends who have worked so hard over the number of years who have been given this opportunity to contribute to this incredible undertaking, but also the fact that we have come to this together.” The place we go back to.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he contacted former US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson after the launch to share his success with a fellow former senator.

Nelson, then a senator from Florida, Bailey from Texas, and U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby from Alabama—all states with large NASA outposts—were key in pressing the Obama administration to develop the SLS as a compromise after the president canceled the Constellation program. Ex too. Expensive and problematic. Obama’s decision to kill Constellation cost more than 1,000 jobs in Huntsville alone, but many jobs returned with the Space Launch System.

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