NASA is aiming to launch a new rocket into space for the second time this week as part of its ambitious Artemis moon mission, which aims to bring people back to the lunar surface as early as 2025. After a failed effort on Monday, there is a lot of anticipation for the launch on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, NASA was investigating a reoccurring hydrogen leak that was this time in the engine cavity. While flight controllers seek to resolve the issue, hydrogen has been delayed to load as NASA continues to clock down to launch.
An enormous rocket is planned to lift off Artemis I at 2:17 p.m. Eastern time for a test mission that is essential to furthering NASA's plans to establish a permanent presence on the lunar surface and eventually take people to Mars.
The first significant test of the Artemis programme will be the Artemis I flight. If all goes according to plan, NASA's enormous Space Launch System rocket, created by Boeing Co., would transport future astronauts to the moon's vicinity while they are aboard the Orion spacecraft, manufactured by Lockheed-Martin Corp.
On Monday, NASA attempted to launch Artemis I, but flight controllers aborted the launch at 8:34 a.m. Eastern time, one minute into the planned two-hour launch window. Storms close to the launch location first led NASA to postpone the rocket's propellant filling. Later, propellant loading was halted due to a possible hydrogen leak.
Based on additional information the flight team was receiving a few days after the scrub, NASA determined that a defective sensor may have been giving an inaccurate temperature value for one of the engines. NASA's SLS programme manager John Honeycutt remarked during a news conference that the behaviour of the sensor "doesn't fit up with the physics of the situation."
The afternoon timing for the new two-hour launch window is necessary due to the orbital mechanics of the Earth and moon, among other factors. Flight controllers can give the go-ahead at any time up until 4:17 p.m. Florida time, although they will attempt to launch at the start of that window.
If everything goes according to plan, the SLS will launch Orion into deep space, where it will enter an extended lunar orbit before landing on Earth. The spacecraft will eventually pass within 60 miles from the lunar surface. Orion will also fly farther into space on its return trip to Earth than any previous spacecraft designed to carry passengers.
The SLS is a brand-new rocket, despite the fact that it uses hardware from the Space Shuttle and its tested engines. Therefore, the likelihood of additional hiccups and delays is considerable.
There are many options for flying again if the SLS cannot take off on Saturday. According to NASA, a new launch might happen as soon as Monday if severe weather is to blame. A speedy turnaround is less possible if a delay was caused by a technical problem.