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NASA is determined with the launch of Artemis I even after experiencing delays

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After being forced to cancel yesterday’s planned launch due to an engine problem, NASA is planning a second try to launch its next-generation rocket on Friday, September 2. At around 8:34 AM ET on Monday, NASA aborted the Artemis I launch attempt due to one of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s four engines failing to reach the proper temperature. The NASA Artemis mission, which seeks to return people to the Moon by 2025, includes SLS as a crucial element.

The following try is planned for Friday, September 2nd, at about 12:48 PM ET. The manager of the Artemis mission, Michael Sarafin, stated that Friday is “certainly in play,” but added that before making any conclusions about the possibility of a successful launch, the agency’s staff needed time to sift through the data.

“There’s a non-zero chance we’ll have a launch opportunity on Friday,” Sarafin said during a briefing with reporters. “We’re going to play all nine innings here. We’re not ready to give up yet.”

NASA
Credit: theverge

More information about the engine problem that caused yesterday’s launch to be scrubbed was revealed by NASA authorities.

The decision to postpone was made because the launch team had problems bringing one of the four RS-25 engines to the right temperature for liftoff. For a launch to be possible, temperatures for the engines must register at 500 Rankine, according to Sarafin.

“Once we got through the propellant loading on the rocket, both on the core stage and the upper stage, they started the engine bleed,” Sarafin said. “We talked in our flight readiness review about the engine bleed. We knew that that was a risk heading into this launch campaign, and it would be the first time demonstrating that successfully.”

Sarafin said that the engine needs to be at a “cryogenically cool temperature such that when it starts, it’s not shocked with all the cold fuel that flows through it. So we needed a little extra time to assess that.”

NASA
Credit: theverge

Officials issued a warning, however, saying that yesterday’s delay should not be interpreted as an engine problem but rather as a problem with the bleed system. In a previous “wet dress rehearsal” of the rocket launch earlier this year, the launch “never fully got into the engine bleed,” Sarafin admitted, adding that officials were aware it could be a concern for yesterday’s flight.

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The last 48 hours, according to Sarafin, have been “extremely active,” with a hydrogen leak that was rapidly fixed and three lightning strikes on the towers supporting the SLS rocket. However, when questioned about whether the rocket might need to be “pushed back” from its position on the launch pad, officials declined to comment.

“That’s getting ahead of our data reviews, and we need the team to get rested and come back tomorrow,” Sarafin said. “We’re going to do our best to see where the data leads us and if we can resolve it operationally out at the pad.”

As it evaluates all the data that led to yesterday’s delay, NASA will need to pay close attention over the coming days. Time will also be against the agency as the following two launch windows approach.

NASA
Credit: theverge

The following try is planned for Friday, September 2nd, at about 12:48 PM ET. The mission will last 39 days if the launch goes as planned, with the Orion crew capsule splashing down in the ocean on October 11th. A third launch window will open on Monday, September 5th, if it doesn’t launch by that time.

But those times could alter if NASA decides the rocket needs to be transported from the launchpad to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center. Teams must thoroughly test the flight termination system, which is used to destroy the rocket if something disastrous occurs before each launch, and this work can only be done within the VAB. If SLS needs to return to the VAB after rolling out in August because that testing is time-consuming, it probably won’t be ready to fly until late October.

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Nivedita Bangari
Nivedita Bangari
I am a software engineer by profession and technology is my love, learning and playing with new technologies is my passion.

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