Artemis I: NASA plans two launches in late September

NASA is trying to fix a fuel leak problem on a rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS).Between last boot attempt At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, Sept. 3, the rocket was fueled with super-cooled liquid hydrogen, causing a major leak.

NASA said at a news conference on Thursday that while the rocket was still on the launch pad, it would repair and replace some seals before running tests to make sure all leaks were plugged. He said NASA is looking to troubleshoot the issue.

It is not yet clear how long it will take.

Then there’s the issue of authentication. The U.S. Space Force, a branch of the U.S. military, still oversees all rocket launches from the U.S. East Coast, including NASA’s Florida launch site, an area known as the “Eastern Range.”

Firing range personnel are tasked with ensuring that no persons or property are endangered by attempted launches. That is, the Eastern Range told NASA that the rocket’s flight-halting system (a system that essentially destroys the rocket in mid-air if it veers off course and begins heading toward a populated area) is ready to fly. I have to admit that I am.

That system relies on batteries, but current regulations require the batteries to be recharged at a nearby indoor facility before the newly proposed launch date arrives.

This is why NASA has taken so long to try another Artemis I launch

NASA wants to waive that rule. However, it is not yet clear when or if that request will be granted. If NASA can’t get approval for its abandonment, the SLS rocket will have to roll off the launch pad and back to a nearby vehicle assembly building, causing further delays.

“If they decide it’s not the right thing to do, we clearly stand by it and step down,” said Jim Free, deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, at a press conference on Thursday. to find the next launch attempt.

“But we’re still going ahead with tanking tests,” he said, referring to tests NASA plans to run to fix hydrogen leaks while the rocket is still on the launch pad. .

Space Force’s Eastern Range said in a statement only that it would “consider NASA’s request.” He declined to share details about timing.

However, on Thursday, NASA gave some insight into what it found about the leak issue. There was an “inadvertent pressurization of the hydrogen lines” that resulted in less than 60 pounds per square inch instead of the 20 pounds per square inch they were hoping for, Artemis mission manager Michael Sarafin said Saturday. .

Artemis I's next launch attempt may not take place until later this year

It’s not yet clear if that overpressure caused the leak, but NASA knew why the overpressure occurred in the first place, and human error was involved.

“Our management apologizes [the operator in charge of overseeing the process] It’s because I manually changed the procedure between the Monday trial and the Saturday trial,” Flea said. So, as a management team, we placed our operators in the best possible locations and didn’t rely heavily on our credit team. ”

According to Free, NASA definitely wants to avoid overpressure. NASA is looking for a “more friendly and gentle loading process.”

For now, there are waiting games and a lot of “ifs” surrounding the timeline for Artemis I’s launch. The ultimate goal of this project is to launch the SLS rocket into orbit and deploy the Orion capsule. The Orion capsule is made for astronauts, but it will fly in the air during this test mission. The capsule orbits the moon and travels 239,000 miles back home.

The Artemis I mission is just the beginning of a program aimed at returning humans to the Moon and ultimately landing a manned mission on Mars. Nelson said the problems with his first two scrubs will not delay future Artemis program missions.

CNN’s Kristin Fisher and Ashley Strickland contributed to this article.


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