Why has NASA seen so much trouble launching the Artemis I mission? – Science – Life

Why has NASA seen so much trouble launching the Artemis I mission? – Science – Life
Why has NASA seen so much trouble launching the Artemis I mission? – Science – Life

In its second launch attempt, which was planned for this Saturday, September 3, NASA had to postpone the takeoff of the Artemis I mission again. According to the space agency, this decision was made due to a leak of liquid hydrogen that could not be controlled.

“The launch manager canceled today’s Artemis I launch attempt at approximately 11:17 a.m. EDT. Teams found a liquid hydrogen leak while loading propellant into the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.. Multiple troubleshooting efforts to address the area of ​​the leak by re-sealing the quick disconnect where liquid hydrogen is fed to the rocket did not fix the problem. Engineers continue to collect additional data,” the space agency said in a statement.

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On August 29, when the launch was first attempted, a fuel-related problem, along with other technical problems, led to the delay in sending the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule into space.

According to Juan Francisco Puerta, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Antioquia, what he sees is that NASA is dealing with a more complex scenario than they expected and facing problems related to fuel that they could not foresee.

Puerta and other experts consulted by EL TIEMPO assure that it is normal for launches of this type to be postponed, even more so in the case of Artemis I, since the investment in the rocket has been more than 4,100 million dollars, for which NASA cannot risk errors in any part of the process of sending it into space.

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In the case of fuel, says the expert, what the space agency has found is that liquid hydrogen has escaped during the filling process. “Since liquid hydrogen has less density than water, then it leaks through any small space it finds. So that is what they are realizing,” emphasizes the expert.

For him, although what is expected is that the next launch attempt will be on September 5, it is likely that NASA will decide to wait even longer while they solve the problems that have been presented to them and that they have identified in the previous process. at launch, called ‘wet dress rehearsal’, which is where they have seen these problems with fuel.

The possibility that the mission will be launched until October increases even more if one takes into account that it is probable that the repair that the rocket requires cannot be carried out directly on the launch pad where it is currently installed, but rather that it must be transferred to the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building.

Puerta ends by pointing out that in the face of this new challenge of such an expensive rocket being sent into space for the first time, NASA may have inadequately managed people’s expectations, bearing in mind that it is not uncommon for a launch to be canceled and especially when it is a rocket that is just being tested.

“I think that NASA did not manage people’s expectations well. At the end of the day, what matters is that everything comes out as well controlled as possible. It is good to think about these issues, that is, the disclosure of these issues is important, but you must have expectations. more real,” he emphasized.

SCIENCE WRITING

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The article is in Spanish

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