NASA is trying to launch its troubled rocket to the moon again. The Artemis mission was originally scheduled to begin in August, but ran into a number of problems, including bad weather and a gas leak, which caused it to be repeatedly delayed.
The space agency will now try again in the launch window, which opens in the middle of the night on Wednesday local time. If successful, the spacecraft will take off from Florida and travel around the Moon before returning to Earth.
Artemis launch Nasa to try and launch its beleaguered Moon rocket once again
In doing so, it will be testing equipment that NASA hopes will one day bring humanity back to the moon, with the goal of using it as one step towards Mars. Fuel tanks are full, the rocket is ready to launch. Here’s the latest launch news from Reuters:
Ground teams at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday filled the main fuel tanks of NASA’s towering next-generation lunar rocket for its debut launch — a flight launching the US space agency’s Artemis program 50 years after the last Apollo lunar mission.
The 32-story Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 1:04 am EST (0604 GMT) on Wednesday to send its Orion capsule on a 25-day test flight around the moon. and back. without astronauts on board.
On Monday, NASA managers gave the go-ahead for flight preparations after 10 weeks of numerous engineering difficulties, successive hurricanes and two spacecraft trips from the hangar to the launch pad.
A hydrogen fuel leak was discovered late Tuesday during the countdown, prompting NASA managers to send a “red team” of technicians to the launch pad to tighten a loose valve connection. According to NASA, the gambit worked and the leak was fixed.
Around the same time, crews monitoring the launch complex were attempting to replace a faulty internet connection, resulting in the shutdown of a critical radar system.
Launch attempts on August 29 and September 3 were aborted due to fuel line leaks and other technical issues that NASA has since fixed. Last week, while the rocket was moored to its launch pad, it endured strong winds and rain from Hurricane Nicole, delaying the flight by two days.
The weather is always a factor beyond NASA’s control. The latest forecast puts an 80% chance of favorable conditions during Wednesday’s two-hour launch window, NASA said.
On Tuesday afternoon, launch teams began the long and delicate process of loading the rocket’s main stage fuel tanks with hundreds of thousands of gallons of supercooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel.
About five hours before liftoff, those tanks were filled, a NASA official said, marking a “major milestone” in preparation for launch. The crews continued to periodically top up the tanks to replenish the small amount of fuel as the liquid gases gradually evaporated as vapour.
The mission, dubbed Artemis I, marks the first joint flight of the SLS rocket and Orion capsule, built by Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, respectively, under contract to NASA.
It also signals a major change in direction for NASA’s human spaceflight program after Apollo, after decades of focus on low Earth orbit with space shuttles and the International Space Station.