NASA nears second attempt to launch Artemis moon rocket on debut test flight

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida, Sept. 2 (Reuters) – Ground teams at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center began a final full day of launch preparations Friday ahead of a second attempt to send NASA’s next-generation giant lunar rocket on its debut test flight, five days after technical problems thwarted a first attempt.

Mission managers were still “going” for a Saturday afternoon launch of the 32-story Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion space capsule to launch NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Artemis program, the successor to the Apollo moon missions. a half-century ago, NASA officials said.

Tests conducted Thursday night showed that technicians appeared to have repaired a leaking fuel line that contributed to NASA’s decision to halt Monday’s first launch operation, Jeremy Parsons, a deputy program manager at the space center, told reporters Friday.

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Two other major issues with the missile itself — a faulty engine temperature sensor and some cracks in insulating foam — have been largely resolved, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters on Thursday evening.

Melody Lovin, a launch weather officer for the US Space Force at Cape Canaveral, said the forecasts call for a 70% chance of favorable conditions during Saturday’s two-hour launch window, which opens at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT), as as well as for a backup start time on Monday.

“The weather still looks pretty good for the launch attempt on Saturday,” Lovin said. “I don’t expect the weather to be a showstopper in any way for either launch window.”

Still, she added, the chance of scrubbing a launch on any given day due to weather or any other reason was about one in three.

The mission, called Artemis I, marks the maiden voyage for both the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule, built under NASA contracts with Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), respectively.

The SLS will launch Orion around the moon and back on a 37-day, unmanned test flight designed to put both vehicles to the test before flying astronauts in another mission aimed at 2024.

If the first two Artemis missions succeed, NASA aims to land astronauts back on the moon as early as 2025, including the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface, although many experts believe the time frame will likely decrease by several times. year.

Twelve astronauts walked on the moon during six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972, the only spaceflight to place humans on the lunar surface.

Apollo emerged from the Cold War-era US-Soviet space race, while NASA’s renewed focus on the moon is more science-driven and includes international partnerships with the space agencies of Europe, Japan and Canada, and with commercial rocket companies such as SpaceX. .

Unlike Apollo, the latest flights to the moon are aimed at establishing a long-lasting, sustainable base of operations on the lunar surface and in orbit as a stepping stone for possible human expeditions to Mars.

NASA’s first step is to get off the ground with the SLS, the largest new vertical launch system the US space agency has built since the Apollo-era Saturn V rocket.

If the Artemis I mission is postponed again for any reason, NASA may try again on Monday or Tuesday. After that, regulations limiting how long a rocket can stay on its launch tower would likely require the spacecraft to be rolled back to its mounting building before another launch attempt is made, Parsons said. Such a move would entail a longer delay than a few days or a week.

The SLS and Orion have been in development for more than a decade, with years of delays and rising costs reaching at least $37 billion last year. But the Artemis program has also generated tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in trade for the aerospace industry, according to NASA.

(This story corrects the day of the fuel line tests to Thursday night in section 3)

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Reporting by Joe Skipper in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional coverage by Joey Roulette in Palm Beach. Fla., Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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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