Science

NASA gives permission to launch Artemis 1 lunar rocket on Nov. 16 despite storm damage

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida. – NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission will still try to launch again.

Mission leaders met Monday (November 14) to discuss flight readiness for the Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft following minor damage caused by Hurricane Nicole, which was quickly downgraded to tropical storm levels after making landfall. Thursday (November 10). Although the sealing strip on Orion was damaged by high winds during the storm’s landfall, Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission leader at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said: Media call today (November 14).

“The unanimous recommendation to the team was that we are in a good position to continue the launch countdown,” added Jeremy Parsons, deputy program manager for NASA Exploration Ground Systems at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. If all goes according to plan during the additional preflight checks and cryogenic refueling process on Tuesday (November 15), the Artemis 1 mission will lift off from Launch Pad 39B at 1:04 AM EST (0604 GMT) on November 16. You can watch the countdown, refueling and launch of Artemis 1 live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA.

Related: Watch NASA Artemis 1 Lunar Rocket Launch November 16 Online Free

Read more: NASA Artemis 1 Lunar Mission: Operational Updates

One major issue was a strip of insulating seal known as RTV, which is designed to fill a small gap on the outside of the Orion spacecraft. High winds during Hurricane Nicole ripped off a 10-foot (3-meter) RTV section off Orion. After the damage was discovered, there were concerns that the lack of sealant could create unwanted airflow that could lead to excess heat during launch and flight. After examining the problem and conducting several analyzes, the Artemis 1 mission leaders concluded that the vehicle was still airworthy.

“We looked at the entire stack of vehicles from the Orion spacecraft to the bottom of the stack and concluded that the risk is limited to the current hazards and the hazard reports we have,” Sarafin told reporters.

“However, if we have an issue that causes us to meet one of our banned criteria, it might not be our day,” Sarafin added.

NASA image showing a damaged piece of RTV insulation sealant on the outside of the Orion spacecraft of the Artemis 1 mission. (Image credit: NASA)

However, Parsons added that while there is still a possibility that mission leaders will discover issues that will hinder Wednesday’s (November 16) launch attempt, there are many things to be proud of in terms of how Artemis 1 teams held out. far through many mission failures.

“And I’ll tell you that at this point the team is at full capacity and that’s why I just can’t be more proud of them. Because I think if you had asked me a couple of weeks ago if we would have gone through a storm like Hurricane Nicole and then be able to turn around, clean the car and be in good shape, I would have said, “Hey, the chances are probably low. . But this team really just worked to its fullest,” said Parsons.

Artemis 1 will see the launch of the uncrewed Orion spacecraft on the SLS ship into lunar orbit. The mission is intended to lay the groundwork for future Artemis missions, in which humanity will return to the Moon with the ultimate goal of establishing a sustainable human presence there.

Artemis 2 will see a human crew enter orbit around the moon no earlier than 2023, and Artemis 3, scheduled for 2024 or 2025, will again see astronauts leave footprints on the surface of the moon.

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