Artemis 1: NASA’s Mega Moon rocket returns to launch pad for next launch test
Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news about amazing discoveries, scientific advances and more.
The glide rocket at the heart of NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon arrived on the launch pad Friday morning as the space agency prepares for another attempt to land the Artemis 1 mission.
Liftoff of the unmanned test mission is scheduled for Nov. 14, with a 69-minute launch window opening at 12:07 a.m. The launch will be streamed live on NASA’s website.
The Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket launched from the indoor shelter to Pad 39B, 4 miles (6.4 km) away at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Late Thursday night. He reached his destination after 9 hours.
After failing the first two launch attempts and a hurricane detouring through Florida, the rocket was shelved for weeks after it left the launch pad and encountered fuel leaks for safety reasons.
The Artemis team is monitoring the storm that could be heading toward Florida again, but officials feel confident moving forward with the planned launch, said Jim Fry, associate administrator of NASA’s Search Systems Development Mission Directorate.
Meteorologist Mark Berger, the US Air Force’s launch weather officer at Cape Canaveral, said the unnamed storm could develop near Puerto Rico by the end of the week and move slowly northwestward early next week.
“The National Hurricane Center has a 30% chance of becoming a named hurricane,” Berger said. “But that being said, the models are very similar in developing some kind of low pressure.”
Weather officials say they don’t expect it to be a strong system, but will watch for possible impacts through the middle of next week.
Returning the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) SLS rocket to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, gave engineers a chance to take a closer look. What is bothering the rocket and to Perform maintenance.
In September NASA raced against the clock to get Artemis 1 off the ground because it risked draining mission-critical batteries if it went too long without a liftoff. Engineers were able to recharge or replace the batteries inside the rocket and put it on top of the Orion spacecraft 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 1 mission — expected to be the first of many — will lay the groundwork, testing the rocket and spacecraft and all their systems to make sure they’re safe enough to fly astronauts to the moon and back.
But he’s trying to get this first mission off the ground. The nearly $4 billion SSS rocket has run into trouble. As it is loaded with extremely cold liquid hydrogen, it emits a series of flashes. Faulty sensor He also gave An inaccurate reading as the rocket tries to “condition” its engines, a process that cools the engines so they don’t freak out at super-cool fuel temperatures.
NASA has done it. To solve both problems. The Artemis team decided to hide the faulty sensor, basically ignoring the data it produced. And following the second launch test in September, the space agency conducted another ground test while the rocket was on its way to launch.
The purpose of the cryogenics demonstration is to test the seals and use the super-cold propellant using improved “kind and gentle” loading procedures, which is what the rocket will encounter on launch day. Although the test did not go as planned, NASA said it achieved all of its objectives.
NASA officials reiterated that these delays and technical issues do not indicate a major problem with the rocket.
Before SLS, NASA’s space shuttle The program, which has flown for 30 years, has endured several aborted launches. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets have a history of being cleaned up for mechanical or technical issues.
“I want to reflect on the fact that this is a challenging mission,” Fry said. We see challenges in getting all our systems to work together, which is why we do flight testing. It is following things that cannot be modeled. And we’re learning by taking more risks on this mission before we send crews out there.
The Artemis 1 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, separates when it reaches space. For this mission it will fly empty, except for two mannequins. The Orion capsule will spend a few days orbiting the Moon before entering its orbit and days later beginning its journey home.
In total, the mission will last 25 days, and the Orion capsule is scheduled to lift off from San Diego in the Pacific Ocean on December 9.
The purpose of the mission is to gather data and test hardware, navigation and other systems to ensure that both the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule are ready to receive astronauts. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon this decade.
The Artemis II mission, planned for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the moon but will have a crew on board. In 2025, Artemis III is expected to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.