Despite several lightning hits at the launch pad, NASA’s new moon rocket was still scheduled to launch on Monday’s critical test flight. On Saturday, the U.S. space agency said it would attempt to launch its NASA Moon rocket. On Monday, a liftoff attempt had to be aborted because one of the vehicle’s four engines did not reach the operational temperature. Engineers believe they now know why the problem happened after studying the data. They believe it is probably due to an inaccurate sensor reading, and they can create a plan of action to address the issue on launch day. Earlier in the countdown, the process of chilling the engines would begin.
NASA’s Best Invention
The Space Launch System rocket, measuring 322 feet (98 meters), is NASA’s most potent creation. A half-century after NASA’s Apollo mission, which put 12 humans on the Moon, it is prepared to launch an empty crew capsule into lunar orbit.
If this six-week test voyage is successful, astronauts could revisit the Moon in a few years. However, NASA officials warned that the risks were significant and that officials may abort the trip.
Three test dummies are secured inside the Orion capsule in place of astronauts to assess radiation, acceleration, and vibration, three of the significant risks to humans in deep space. More than 1,000 sensors are present in the capsule alone.
On the technical front, Spaulding claimed that during the past few months, the team made every effort to stop any remaining fuel leaks. During two countdown tests earlier this year, the team required repairs to leaking valves and other defective equipment; engineers won’t know whether all the changes are effective until a few hours before the scheduled liftoff. If Monday doesn’t work out, Friday would be the next opportunity to launch.
The launch team was delighted to finally be so near to the initial flight of the Artemis moon-exploration program, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, after many years of delays and disappointments.
“Considering where we’ve been on this path, it’s fantastic that we’re only 24 hours away from launch right now,” Spaulding pointed. The trip will mark the start of NASA’s Artemis project, which aims to return men to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program was terminated 50 years ago.
Four humans orbit the Moon during the follow-up Artemis flight, which might occur as early as 2024. In 2025, there might be a landing. NASA is focusing on the uncharted south pole of the Moon, where shadowed craters are thought to contain ice that future missions could use.
The European Space Agency (ESA), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency are partners in the Artemis program, which is a robotic and human Moon exploration mission (CSA). For the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, the Artemis program will restore human presence to the Moon if successful. The Space Launch System (SLS), Orion spacecraft, Lunar Gateway space station, and commercial Human Landing Systems, notably Starship HLS, are the program’s primary building blocks. The program’s long-term goals include establishing a permanent base camp on the Moon and assisting human trips to Mars.
Through the Artemis Accords and related contracts, space agencies and businesses worldwide have come together to form the Artemis program. Twenty-one nations, including established U.S. space partners (including the European Space Agency and organizations from Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom) and rising space powers like Brazil, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates, have signed the accords as of July 2022.
Although the Artemis program was officially launched in 2017 during the Trump administration, many of its parts, including the Orion spacecraft, were created during and after the previous Constellation program (2005–2010). The Artemis 1 mission, which would have carried robots and mannequins, was intended to launch in 2022 as Orion’s maiden launch and the first use of the Space Launch System. Planned events include the crewed Artemis 2 launch in 2024, the crewed Artemis 3 lunar landing in 2025, the crewed Artemis 4 docking with the Lunar Gateway in 2027, and subsequent yearly Moon landings after that. But other experts point out that the program’s budget and schedule will likely go over budget and be delayed.
Authorities reported on Sunday that the thunderstorm harmed neither the rocket nor the capsule; neither was the ground support system. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, NASA confirmed five lightning bolts to have struck the towers surrounding the rocket, which is 600 feet (183 meters) tall. The strikes were insufficient to call for significant retesting.
Authorities anticipated further storms. Despite the 80% chance of favorable weather on Monday morning, it was anticipated that the weather would worsen throughout the two-hour launch window.
Due to a leak of highly explosive hydrogen, NASA repeatedly stopped and restarted the fueling of the Space Launch System rocket on Monday morning. Eventually, they were able to reduce the seepage. The leak occurred in the identical spot where seepage occurred during a dress rehearsal in the spring. Storms off Florida’s Kennedy Space Center already caused the fueling to be nearly an hour late.