The liquid oxygen (LOX) tank at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida recently underwent a pressurisation test following an upgrade by the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team for the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
The six-hour test of the giant sphere checked for leaks in the cryogenic pipes leading from the tank to the block valves, the LOX sensing cabinet, and new vaporisers recently installed on the tank.
The SLS will use both LOX and liquid hydrogen (LH2). During tanking, some of the liquid oxygen, stored at minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit, boils off and vapour or mist is visible. While the tank can hold up to 900,000 gallons of LOX; during the test it only contained 590,000 gallons of the super-cooled propellant.
The test was monitored by engineers and technicians inside Firing Room 1 at the Launch Control Centre, a heritage KSC facility also upgraded by the EGS team in preparation for the upcoming mission. Results of the test confirmed that the fill rise rate was acceptable, the tank pressurisation sequence works and that only one of the two vaporisers was needed to accomplish pressurisation.
Another system is “go” for the first integrated launch of SLS and the Orion spacecraft!