Artemis I: NASA’s mega moon rocket returns to the launch pad

Artemis I: NASA’s mega moon rocket returns to the launch pad

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The massive rocket at the heart of NASA’s plans to return humans to the moon is back on the launch pad friday com the space agency is preparing for another attempt to go ahead with the Artemis I mission.

Liftoff for the uncrewed test mission is scheduled for Nov. 14, with a 69-minute launch window opening at 12:07 a.m. ET. The launch will be streamed live NASA website.

The Space Launch System rocket, or SLS, began the hours-long trek of 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from its indoor shelter to Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. late Thursday evening.

The rocket had been stored for weeks afterwards problems with fuel leaks which foiled the first two launch attempts and then a hurricane crossed Floridaforcing the rocket to leave the launch pad and head for safety.

The Artemis team is again monitoring a storm that could be heading toward Florida, but is confident of going ahead with the launch to the launch pad, said Jim Free, associate administrator for the Systems Development Mission Directorate. of NASA Exploration.

The unnamed storm could develop near Puerto Rico over the weekend and slowly move northwest early next week, said meteorologist Mark Burger, the force’s release weather officer. US Air to Cape Canaveral.

“The National Hurricane Center only has a 30 percent chance of becoming a named storm,” Burger said. “However, that said, the models are very consistent in developing some kind of low pressure.”

Weather officials do not expect it to become a strong system, but they will be watching for possible impacts into the middle of next week, he said.

Returning the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) SLS rocket to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, gave engineers a chance to dig deeper into the problems. that have been plaguing the rocket already perform maintenance.

In September, NASA raced against the clock to get Artemis I off the ground because there was a risk of running out of mission-essential batteries if it spent too much time on the launch pad without liftoff. The engineers could recharge or replace the batteries all over the rocket and the Orion spacecraft on top while they were sitting in the VAB.

The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the Moon for the first time in half a century. And the Artemis I mission, which is expected to be the first of many, will lay the groundwork, testing the rocket and spacecraft and all its subsystems to ensure they are safe enough for astronauts to fly to the Moon and come back.

But getting this first mission out there has been trying. The SLS rocket, which cost approximately $4 billion, ran into problems as it was loaded with super-cooled liquid hydrogen, causing a series of leaks. A faulty sensor also gave inaccurate readings as the rocket attempted to “condition” its engines, a process that cools them so they are not shocked by the temperatures of their super-cooled fuel.

NASA has worked to solve both problems. The Artemis team decided to mask the faulty sensor, essentially ignoring the data it presents. And after the second launch attempt in September, the space agency he did another ground test when the rocket was still on the launch pad.

The purpose of the cryogenic demonstration was to test the seals and use updated “kinder and gentler” loading procedures for the supercooled propellant, which is what the rocket would experience on launch day. While the test didn’t go exactly as planned, NASA said it met all of its goals.

NASA officials again emphasized that these delays and technical problems they don’t necessarily point to a major problem with the rocket

Before SLS, NASA’s space shuttle The show, which flew for 30 years, suffered from frequent scrubbed launches. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets also have a history of grinding out due to mechanical or technical issues.

“I want to reflect on the fact that this is a challenging mission,” Free said. “We’ve seen challenges just getting all our systems to work together and that’s why we do a flight test. It’s about going after the things that can’t be modeled. And we’re learning by taking more risks on this mission before we put crew”.

The Artemis I mission is expected to pave the way for other missions to the moon After liftoff, the Orion capsule, which is designed to carry astronauts and sits atop the rocket during liftoff, will separate as it reaches space. It will fly empty for this mission, apart from a couple mannequins. The Orion capsule will spend a few days maneuvering toward the Moon before entering its orbit and beginning the trek back home days later.

Overall, the mission is expected to last 25 days, with the Orion capsule dumping into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego scheduled for Dec. 9.

The purpose of the trip is to collect data and test hardware, navigation and other systems to ensure that both the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule are ready to host astronauts. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface this decade.

The Artemis II mission, scheduled for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the Moon, but will have a crew on board. And in 2025, Artemis III is expected to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.

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