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The massive rocket at the heart of NASA’s plans to return humans to the Moon arrived at the launch pad Friday morning as the space agency prepares for another attempt to launch the Artemis I mission to Earth.
The unmanned test mission is scheduled to take off on November 14, with a 69-minute launch window opening at 12:07 a.m. ET. No live broadcast ever NASA website.
The Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket began the hours-long operation on a 4-mile (6.4 km) walk from its inner sanctuary to Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. late Thursday evening. It reached its destination about 9 hours later.
The missile was hidden for weeks after that fuel leakage problems That thwarted my first two launch attempts and then a Hurricane rolled across Floridaforcing the missile to evacuate the launch pad and head to safety.
The Artemis team is once again monitoring a storm that may be headed toward Florida, but officials felt confident to go ahead with the start-up, according to Jim Frey, an associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Missions Department.
The undisclosed storm could develop near Puerto Rico over the weekend and will move slowly to the northwest early next week, meteorologist Mark Burger, a meteorologist with the US Air Force in Cape Canaveral, said.
“The National Hurricane Center has a 30% chance of becoming a designated storm,” Burger said. “However, nevertheless, the models are very consistent in developing some kind of low pressure.”
He said weather officials do not expect it to become a robust system, but that they will monitor potential effects in the middle of next week.
The return of the 322-foot (98 m) SLS missile to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, has given engineers a chance to take a deeper look at the problems. That plagued the missile and I do maintenance.
in September, NASA raced against time to get Artemis I off Earth because there was a risk of draining the mission’s primary batteries if it spent too long on the launch pad without taking off. The engineers were able to Recharge or replace the batteries All around the rocket and the Orion spacecraft above them as they sit in the VAB.
The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the moon for the first time in half a century. The Artemis I mission – expected to be the first of many – will lay the groundwork, testing the rocket, spacecraft and all their subsystems to ensure they are safe enough for astronauts to travel to the moon and back.
But launching this first mission he was trying. The SLS missile, which cost about $4 billion, has encountered problems Because it was loaded with supercooled liquid hydrogen, which led to a series of leaks. Defective sensor also gave Inaccurate readings when the rocket attempted to “condition” its engines, a process that cools the engines so they won’t be shocked by extremely cold fuel temperatures.
I worked for NASA To explore both problems. The Artemis team decided to hide the faulty sensor, and discard the data it outputs. Following the space agency’s second launch attempt in September, Performed another ground test When the missile was still on the launch pad.
The purpose of the cooling demonstration was to test the seals and use updated “gentle and gentler” loading procedures for the ultra-cooled propellant, which the rocket will test on launch day. While the test didn’t quite go as planned, NASA said it met all of its goals.
NASA officials once again emphasized that these delays and technical issues It does not necessarily indicate a big problem by missile.
Before the SLS, NASA’s Space Shuttle The program, which has flown for 30 years, has endured repeated launches that have been wiped out. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets also have a history of scrubbing for mechanical or technical problems.
“I want to think about the fact that this is a difficult task,” Frey said. “We’ve seen challenges just to get all of our systems to work together and that’s why we’re doing a flight test. It’s about keeping track of things that can’t be designed. And we’re learning by taking more risks in this mission before we put the crew out there.”
The Artemis I mission is expected to pave the way for other missions to the moon. After liftoff, the Orion capsule, which is designed to carry astronauts and sits on top of the rocket during liftoff, will separate when it reaches space. You will fly empty for this mission, except for two mannequins. Orion’s capsule will spend a few days maneuvering to reach the moon before it enters orbit and begins its return home days later.
Overall, the mission is expected to last 25 days, with the Orion capsule launching into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on December 9.
The purpose of the flight is to collect data and test hardware, navigation and other systems to ensure that both the SLS rocket and Orion capsule are ready to host astronauts. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon this decade.
The Artemis II mission, scheduled for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the Moon but will have a crew on board. And in 2025, Artemis III astronauts are expected to land on the moon for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.
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