This Saturday NASA will make a second attempt to launch the unmanned lunar mission Artemis I into space from Cape Canaveral (Florida), which marks the beginning of the race for a future colonization of the Earth satellite.
Prior to launch, Artemis I is experiencing fuel loading problems. This resulted in a 30-minute delay in launch due to leaking liquid hydrogen.
The objective of this historic mission is to test the capabilities of the powerful SLS (Space Launch System) rocket, 98 meters high (322 feet), and the Orion spacecraft, with capacity for four astronauts.
The two-hour launch window opens at 14:17 local time (18:17 GMT) on Saturday and if for technical, meteorological or other reasons the takeoff has to be delayed again, the next attempt will be made on Monday 5 September.
It is expected that, as happened on August 29, when a first attempt had to be canceled due to a failure in one of the four RS-25 engines of the powerful SLS rocket, the so-called “Coast of Space”, the region where it is located the space center, is filled with visitors eager to watch the launch.
The SLS rocket, with a cost of 4,100 million dollars, will carry the Orion spacecraft in its upper cone, which will carry out a six-week mission during which it will orbit the Moon.
Orion, the fastest and most powerful spacecraft ever built, capable of reaching 24.5 billion miles per hour (39,428 km/h), will have traveled 1.3 million miles (more than two million kilometers) when it returns to the earth. If the launch takes place this Saturday and there are no unforeseen events in the mission, Orion will splash down in the Pacific Ocean, west of San Diego (California), on October 11.
The Artemis I mission management team, after reviewing the status of operations Thursday afternoon, gave the go-ahead for launch on September 3.
Since the failed Aug. 29 attempt, teams have updated procedures, practiced operations and refined timelines, NASA said.
Adjustments and repairs before takeoff
Among other things, they repaired a leak in one of the pipes, called umbilicals by NASA, which go from the mobile launch tower to the rocket and the spacecraft to supply power, fuel, coolant and communications.
Teams also readjusted or tightened bolts to ensure a tight seal when feeding supercooled propellants through those lines.
While no leak was detected at room temperature, crews will continue to monitor the umbilicals during tanking operations, NASA said. Teams will adjust procedures to cool down the engines, also called a start-up purge test, 30 to 45 minutes earlier in the countdown during the liquid hydrogen fast-fill phase for the core stage.
This will give additional time to cool down the engines to temperatures suitable for launch. US Space Force forecasters are forecasting 60% favorable weather conditions, which will improve throughout the window by Saturday.
Following the historic Artemis I mission, NASA has two more Artemis missions planned. The second will be a manned trip to the Moon and the third will put the first crew in more than 50 years on the surface of the Earth’s satellite.
In that crew will be the first woman and the first person of color to travel to the Moon.
NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, launched in December 1972, was the last in which American astronauts traveled to the Moon and walked on its surface.
Man first set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969 during NASA’s historic Apollo XI mission. The Saturn V rocket, with the Eagle spacecraft at its tip, took off from Cape Canaveral four days earlier with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin as crew members. EFE