The launch of Artemis I was originally scheduled for August 29th. But after two unsuccessful attempts, the third launch attempt will take place almost a month later. NASA has announced that it will now attempt to launch its spacecraft to the Moon no earlier than September 27 and will explore the possibility of a back-up launch on October 2.
The Orion spacecraft is due to launch aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for a flight around the Moon on September 27, with a 70-minute launch window opening at 5:37 pm (11:37 am ET). NASA will have a 109-minute launch window on October 2, opening at 20:52 (2:52 pm EDT) after validation is approved.
NASA indicated last week that the next launch could take place as early as Friday, September 23rd. However, the new dates will allow officials to ensure that teams have enough rest and time to replenish their cryogenic fuel supplies. NASA will conduct a cryogenic demonstration test no earlier than Wednesday, September 21st.
Stage of inspection and repair
“The new dates are the result of careful consideration of several logistical issues, including the additional benefits of having more time to prepare the cryogenic demonstration test and therefore more time to prepare for launch,” NASA said in a statement.
The first attempt to launch Artemis I on 29 August failed due to a problem with one of the SLS rocket engines. The engine struggled to reach the proper temperature range for takeoff.
According to NASA, a second launch attempt was made on September 3 and failed due to a hydrogen leak at the quick-connect, the interface between the liquid hydrogen supply line and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Three attempts were made to seal the joint, but they did not give any results.
The Artemis I teams quickly fixed the leak before the new launch date. Crews completed repairs over the weekend in the area of the hydrogen leak by reconnecting the ground and rocket plates at the liquid hydrogen line quick-connect where two gaskets were replaced last week, NASA said.
After the DART mission
This week the teams will continue to investigate the leak to make sure the two plates are properly connected to each other. The Cryogenic Demonstration Test will also allow teams to determine if the leak has indeed been repaired and evaluate updated fuel loading procedures to reduce thermal and system pressure loads, perform pre-purge and evaluate pre-boost procedures.
The new launch date for Artemis is the day after NASA’s DART mission. During a briefing on Monday, NASA clarified that the coincidence of the two missions would not affect their success.