Science

Artemis mission: third launch attempt not until October

After the first two failures, the Artemis mission does not finally start for several more weeks. The third launch attempt has been postponed to October, probably in the second half of the month.

The US space agency is forced to delay the launch of the Artemis I mission. This is the first part of the Artemis program, the goal of which is to return a man to the moon. The first launch attempt was canceled at the last moment at the end of August due to a technical problem. One of the SLS launcher’s engines leaked hydrogen. Therefore, the second date was set a few days later. Artemis I was supposed to take off on Saturday September 3 towards the Moon, but a new fuel leak prevented it from taking off.

SLS launch vehicle carrying Orion spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center – Credits: NASA/Joel Kouski

Finally, we will have to wait a few more weeks before the SLS booster leaves Earth. He will fly to the moon. He is supposed to put the unmanned Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit. It will spend several dozen days there before returning to Earth in a controlled manner. The goal is obviously to simulate a manned lunar mission with astronauts.

NASA has several solutions to fix the hydrogen leak.

Jim Free, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Engineering, confirmed that “we will not be launching during this launch window.” Crews at Kennedy Space Center tried three times to fix the fuel leak before launch on Saturday, but it was an “unmanaged leak” according to Artemis mission leader Michael Sarafin.

Therefore, the space agency will spend the next few days and weeks fixing this problem. It is still too early to know the exact cause of the leak, but NASA now has two solutions: replacing the 39B launch pad seal or the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) that is used to assemble the SLS launcher. Whichever solution the agency chooses, the next launch window will begin on September 16th and end on October 4th. However, another mission is already planned during this period. This is Crew-5, which will launch from the Kennedy Space Center en route to the ISS on October 3rd.

Therefore, Artemis’ next takeoff attempt can be scheduled for the next launch window. It opens from October 17 until the end of the month. We should find out more soon. In any case, NASA administrator Bill Nelson confirmed that “we don’t launch until we think it’s good. I see this as part of our space program where safety comes first.”

Source: Engadget

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