NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket will remain on the ground for at least four more days.
NASA had been considering September 23 or 27 for the launch of Artemis 1, which will use a space launch system (SLS) megarocket to send an Orion capsule on an uncrewed test flight to lunar orbit. But the agency announced in a blog post on Monday night (Sept. 12) that the earlier date is no longer in play; it is now targeting September 27 for liftoff of Artemis 1, with a possible backup date of October 2.
Artemis 1 it was supposed to be in the air already. NASA first attempted to launch the mission on August 29, but was hampered by an anomalous temperature reading in one of the SLS’s RS-25 first-stage engines. The mission team soon traced that problem to a faulty temperature sensor and readied SLS and Orion for another try on September 3. But a liquid hydrogen propellant leak he sank that takeoff attempt as well.
The leak occurred at a “quick disconnect,” an interface that links the SLS’s core stage with a propellant line coming from the rocket’s mobile launch tower. Artemis team 1 replaced two seals fixed the quick disconnect last week and wrapped up other repair work related to the issue over the weekend, NASA officials wrote in the update.
NASA is now preparing for an SLS fuel test, which will pump super-cold propellant into the SLS to show that the leak has been fixed. The agency had been targeting September 17 for that test, but has now been pushed back to September 21.
“The updated dates represent careful consideration of multiple logistical issues, including the added value of having more time to prepare for the cryogenic demonstration test and, subsequently, more time to prepare for launch,” NASA officials wrote in an email. monday blog post (opens in a new tab). “The dates also allow managers to make sure teams get enough rest and replenish supplies of cryogenic propellants.”
The Artemis 1 stack remains on Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but you may end up having to go back to KSC’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). the US space forcewhich oversees the Eastern Cordillera for rocket launches, certified Artemis 1’s flight termination system (FTS) for just a 25-day period, and that time is up.
NASA has applied for an extension for the certification of the FTS, which is designed to destroy the stack of Artemis 1 if it veers off course during liftoff. If that request is denied, the vehicle will have to be rolled from apron 39B to the VAB, the only place where the tests required for recertification can be carried out. (Artemis 1 might have to go back to the VAB for repairs anyway, if the fixes made on the platform don’t stick.)
“NASA continues to follow the Eastern Range process for review of the agency’s request for an extension of the current test requirement for the flight termination system and provides additional information and data as needed,” NASA wrote in the statement. Monday update. “In parallel, the agency is continuing preparations for cryogenic demonstration testing and potential launch opportunities, should the application be approved.”
NASA has already received such an FTS extension, from 20 days to 25 days.
Artemis 1’s next two liftoff dates are close to SpaceX’s Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA, scheduled to launch to the International Space Station from KSC’s Pad 39A on October 3.
“Teams are working on the next commercial crew launch in parallel with planning for Artemis 1, and both launch schedules will continue to be evaluated in the coming weeks,” NASA officials wrote in Monday’s update.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacepointcom (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).