NASA ready for second attempt at Artemis lunar launch

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NASA’s next-generation lunar rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) with the Orion crew pod on top, stands at launch complex 39B as rain clouds move into the area before the rescheduled test launch for the Artemis 1 mission at Cape Canaveral, Florida, US Sept. 2, 2022. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida, Sept. 3 (Reuters) – Ground teams at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday prepared for a second attempt to launch NASA’s towering, next-generation lunar rocket on its debut flight, hoping to fix technical problems that thwarted the first countdown five days earlier.

The 32-story Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule were due to launch at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, launching NASA’s ambitious Moon-to-Mars program Artemis program. 50 started. years after the last Apollo moon mission. (Image: https://tmsnrt.rs/3PPRsbN)

The previous launch bid on Monday ended with technical issues that forced the countdown and postponement of the unmanned flight to be halted.

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Tests indicated that technicians have since repaired a leaking fuel line that contributed to Monday’s canceled launch, Jeremy Parsons, a deputy program manager at the space center, told reporters Friday.

Two other major issues with the rocket itself — a faulty engine temperature sensor and some cracks in insulating foam — have been resolved to NASA’s satisfaction, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters Thursday evening.

Weather is always an additional factor beyond NASA’s control. According to the latest forecast, there was a 70% chance of favorable conditions during Saturday’s two-hour launch window, according to the US Space Force at Cape Canaveral.

If the countdown were stopped again, NASA could reschedule another launch attempt to Monday or Tuesday.

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

It also signals a major change of direction for NASA’s post-Apollo manned spaceflight program, after decades targeting low Earth orbit with space shuttles and the International Space Station.

Named after the goddess who was Apollo’s twin sister in ancient Greek mythology, Artemis aims to return astronauts to the moon’s surface as early as 2025.

Twelve astronauts walked on the moon during six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972, the only spaceflight to place humans on the lunar surface. But Apollo, born of the US-Soviet space race during the Cold War, was less science-driven than Artemis.

The new moon program has engaged commercial partners such as SpaceX and the space agencies of Europe, Canada and Japan to eventually establish a long-term lunar base of operations as a stepping stone to even more ambitious human journeys to Mars.

Getting the SLS-Orion spacecraft off the ground is an important first step. The maiden voyage aims to put the 5.75 million pound vehicle to the test in a rigorous test flight that pushes its design limits and hopefully proves the spacecraft is capable of flying astronauts.

If the mission succeeds, a manned Artemis II flight around the moon and back could take place as early as 2024, to be followed in a few years with the first moon landing of astronauts, including a woman, with Artemis III.

Billed as the world’s most powerful, most complex rocket, the SLS represents the largest new vertical launch system the US space agency has built since the Apollo-era Saturn V.

Barring any last-minute difficulties, Saturday’s countdown should end with the rocket’s four main R-25 engines and its dual solid rocket boosters ignited to produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust, about 15% more thrust. the Saturn V, causing the spacecraft to skyrocket.

About 90 minutes after launch, the rocket’s upper stage will push Orion out of orbit on course for a 37-day flight that will take it within 60 miles of the lunar surface before flying 40,000 miles (64,374 km) beyond the moon. sails and back to Earth. The capsule is expected to crash into the Pacific Ocean on October 11.

While there will be no people on board, Orion will carry a simulated crew of three — one male and two female mannequins — equipped with sensors to measure radiation levels and other stresses that real astronauts would experience.

A primary objective of the mission is to test the durability of Orion’s heat shield during reentry when it hits Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 24,500 miles (39,429 km) per hour, or 32 times the speed of sound, at its return from lunar orbit – much faster than the more common return of capsules returning from orbit.

The heat shield is designed to resist friction upon re-entry that is expected to raise the temperature outside the capsule to nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 Celsius).

The SLS-Orion spacecraft has been in development for more than a decade with years of delays and budget overruns and has cost NASA at least $37 billion to date, including design, construction, testing and ground facilities. NASA’s Office of Inspector General has predicted that the total cost of Artemis will be $93 billion by 2025.

NASA defends the program as a boon to space exploration that has created tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in commerce.

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Reporting by Joey Roulette in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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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