NASA Artemis Moon mission update 1: Saturday launch attempt

NASA’s next-generation Moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion crew capsule on top, stands on Launch Pad 39B in preparation for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Aug. 27, 2022.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

NASA has announced that it will make another attempt to launch the Artemis I mission to the moon on Saturday, then launch cancellation Monday due to an engine problem.

The space agency is working to launch a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule, on a more than month-long journey around the moon.

On Monday, NASA was unable to resolve a temperature problem identified in one of the four liquid-fueled rocket engines, which was discovered less than two hours before the countdown began. During a press conference Tuesday, NASA SLS program manager John Honeycutt said the agency believes the engine problem was due to a faulty sensor, given data analysis that showed the thrust was flowing as expected.

Honeycutt noted that the rocket’s technical team continues to review the data and still needs to “refine our plan” to make Saturday’s launch possible. If NASA needs to eject the SLS from the launch pad to get to the engine sensor, that will likely mean a delay of weeks or months before another launch is attempted.

“Replacing the sensor on the launch pad would be difficult,” Honeycutt said.

Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis I mission manager, said the team will change the procedures for loading propellant into the rocket, and begin trying to cool the engine to optimum temperature early during the countdown.

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Notably, weather remains a concern about whether NASA can attempt the launch on Saturday, according to Space Force meteorological launch officer Mark Berger.

“The possibility of a weather violation at any point in the countdown still seems to me fairly high,” Burger said during the press conference.

NASA said a two-hour launch window opens at 2:17 p.m. ET on Saturday, which means it could launch any time between that time and 4:17 p.m. due to the length of the launch, Burger added, “I still think we have a chance.” good”, although nearly 60% predicted that the weather would prevent the missile from launching.

The unmanned flight is set to be the agency’s first assembled missile NASA’s long-awaited return to the lunar surface begins. This marks the beginning of NASA’s Artemis lunar program, in which the agency’s astronauts are expected to land on the Moon on its third mission in 2025.

While Artemis I will not carry astronauts and will not land on the Moon, the mission is critical to demonstrating that NASA’s monster rocket and deep space capsule can deliver on their promised capabilities. Artemis I has been delayed for years, as the program has crossed billions from budget.

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