NASA Artemis 1 moon mission update: Saturday launch attempt

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NASA’s next-generation lunar rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with its Orion crew pod on top, as it stands on launch pad 39B in preparation for the unmanned Artemis 1 mission at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Aug. 27, 2022.

Joe Schipper | Reuters

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

The space agency is preparing to debut its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule, for what would be more than a month’s journey around the moon.

On Monday, NASA was unable to resolve a temperature problem identified with one of the rocket’s four liquid-fuel engines, discovered with less than two hours left in the countdown. NASA’s SLS program manager John Honeycutt said at a news conference Tuesday that the agency believes the engine problem was due to a faulty sensor, given data analysis showing the propellant was flowing as expected.

Honeycutt noted that the rocket’s engineering team continues to review the data and still “needs polishing our plan” to allow for a Saturday launch. If NASA had to roll SLS off the launch pad to access the engine sensor, that would likely mean a weeks or months delay for another launch attempt.

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

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

Weather in particular remains a concern as to whether NASA can attempt Saturday’s launch, according to Space Force weather launch officer Mark Burger.

“The probability of weather violations at any point in the countdown still seems quite high to me,” Burger said during the press conference.

NASA said a two-hour launch window will open at 2:17 p.m. ET on Saturday, meaning it could take off anytime between then and 4:17 p.m. Due to the length of the launch window, Burger added, “I still think we have a pretty good chance,” despite a forecast of about 60% that weather would prevent the rocket from launching.

The unmanned flight will be the first of the agency’s most powerful rockets ever assembled and the go-ahead for NASA’s long-awaited return to the moon’s surface. It marks the beginning of NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which is expected to land the agency’s astronauts on the moon during its third mission in 2025.

While Artemis I will neither carry astronauts nor 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 and the program is running billions over budget.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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