space journalist Joey Roulette tweeted that Deputy Assistant Administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Division, Tom Whitmeyer, suggested that one of the reasons the press won’t have access to the wetsuit rehearsal is due to to national security issues. He cited concerns over US regulations on international arms trafficking and “fear that adversaries glean cryogenic timing information for clues about ballistic missile systems” as reasons for the countdown. will not be made public.
Whether viewing the countdown would violate any government regulations is a complicated legal question, but it seems odd that NASA has only raised this concern now. It could be that rising tensions with Russia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine have made government agencies more conservative about what they are willing to share.
Space experts are still debating exactly why NASA made this decision and whether or not it is legally sound. The result seems to be, as a space journalist Eric Berger put it, “The most likely explanation for NASA keeping the SLS countdown loop private isn’t a desire to hide a mistake or something, but probably an overzealous government lawyer somewhere.”
The wet dress rehearsal will begin today and continue through the weekend. You can watch the rocket video on the pad -– although there is no audio or commentary -– at Kennedy Press Room YouTube Channelor you can follow the progress on the Artemis Blog.