The launch of NASA’s new mega-rocket to the Moon, already aborted twice due to technical problems, will take place no earlier than September 27, the US space agency announced on Monday.

This highly anticipated test flight of the Artemis 1 mission, without a crew on board, must test the SLS rocket (for Space Launch System) in real conditions and the Orion capsule at its summit, where the astronauts will take place in the future.

To get a green light, NASA teams must successfully complete a fuel tank filling test and obtain a special waiver to avoid re-testing the batteries on an emergency destruction system. rocket.

If the agency does not receive this waiver, the rocket will have to return to the assembly building, which would push the schedule back several weeks.

Take off from September 27 or October 2

The September 27 firing window will open at 11:37 a.m. local time for 70 minutes, with a scheduled end of mission on November 5. A possible second window is scheduled for October 2, NASA said in a blog post.

Last week, NASA said it hoped to be able to launch SLS on September 23 or 27.

The launch of the rocket had been canceled on Monday August 29, then again on Saturday September 3, due to technical problems, a setback which delays the effective launch of the American program back to the Moon, Artemis.

The orange and white SLS rocket, which has never flown before, has been in development for more than a decade.

Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, Artemis 1 should make it possible to verify that the Orion capsule, at the top of the rocket, is safe to transport astronauts to the Moon in the future.

For this first mission, Orion will venture up to 64,000 kilometers behind the Moon, farther than any other habitable spacecraft so far.

The main objective is to test its heat shield, the largest ever built. On its return to the Earth’s atmosphere, it will have to withstand a speed of 40,000 km/h and a temperature half as hot as that of the surface of the Sun.

Back to the Moon: NASA again postpones the take-off of its mega-rocket

LThe launch of NASA’s new mega-rocket to the Moon, already aborted twice due to technical problems, will take place no earlier than September 27, the US space agency announced on Monday.

This highly anticipated test flight of the Artemis 1 mission, without a crew on board, must test the SLS rocket (for Space Launch System) in real conditions and the Orion capsule at its summit, where the astronauts will take place in the future.

To get a green light, NASA teams must successfully complete a fuel tank filling test and obtain a special waiver to avoid re-testing the batteries on an emergency destruction system. rocket. If the agency does not receive this waiver, the rocket will have to return to the assembly building, which would push the schedule back several weeks.

The September 27 firing window will open at 11:37 a.m. local time for 70 minutes, with a scheduled end of mission on November 5. A possible second window is scheduled for October 2, NASA said in a blog post. Last week, NASA said it hoped to be able to launch SLS on September 23 or 27.

The launch of the rocket had been canceled on Monday August 29, then again on Saturday September 3, due to technical problems, a setback that is delaying the actual launch of the American return program to the Moon, Artemis. The orange and white SLS rocket, which has never flown before, has been in development for more than a decade.

Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, Artemis 1 should make it possible to verify that the Orion capsule, at the top of the rocket, is safe to transport astronauts to the Moon in the future. For this first mission, Orion will venture up to 64,000 kilometers behind the Moon, farther than any other habitable spacecraft so far.

The main objective is to test its heat shield, the largest ever built. On its return to the Earth’s atmosphere, it will have to withstand a speed of 40,000 km/h and a temperature half as hot as that of the surface of the Sun.

NASA determines that Artemis 1 takes off from September 27

After two delays, bug fixes, and possible dates, NASA said Artemis 1 won’t lift off until September 27, ruling out the launch before then.

NASA had been aiming for September 23 or 27 for the launch of Artemis, but the agency announced in a Monday evening blog post that the earlier date was no longer in sight; now the focus is on September 27 for liftoff, with a possible reserve date of October 2.

Artemis 1 Timeline

Artemis 1 should already be in the air. NASA first attempted to launch the mission on August 29, but the attempt was thwarted by an abnormal temperature reading on one of the SLS’s RS-25 first-stage engines.

The mission team quickly identified the problem down to a faulty temperature sensor and readied the SLS and Orion for another attempt on September 3. But a leak of liquid hydrogen propellant also derailed this takeoff attempt.

The leak occurred in a “quick disconnect”, an interface that connects the central stage of the SLS to the propellant line coming from the rocket’s mobile launch tower.

The mega-

The Artemis 1 team replaced two seals around the quick disconnect last week and completed other repair work related to the issue over the weekend, NASA officials wrote in the update. .

NASA is now preparing to test the SLS fuel, which will pump supercold propellant into the SLS to show that the leak has been fixed. The agency was aiming for the test on September 17, but has now been pushed back to September 21 at the earliest.

“The updated dates represent a careful consideration of various logistical topics, including the added value of having more time to prepare for the cryogenic demonstration test and, later, more time to prepare for launch,” said wrote NASA officials in the message. “The dates also allow managers to ensure teams are getting enough rest and restocking cryogenic propellants. »

The Artemis 1 stack remains on Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but may eventually have to return to KSC’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

The US Space Force, which oversees the Eastern Range for rocket launches, certified the Artemis 1 Flight Termination System (FTS) for a period of only 25 days, which has now expired.

The American space agency, however, requested an extension of the certification of the FTS, intended to destroy the Artemis 1 stack if it deviates from its take-off trajectory.

“NASA continues to follow the Eastern Range process to review the agency’s request to expand the current test requirement for the flight arrest system and provide additional information and data as needed,” said wrote NASA in Monday’s update. “In parallel, the agency is continuing preparations for the cryogenic demonstration test and potential launch opportunities if the application is approved,” he continued.

NASA has already received one of these extensions from the STF, from 20 days to 25 days. The next two launch dates for Artemis 1 are close to those of SpaceX’s Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA, which is due to launch to the ISS (International Space Station) from KSC’s Pad 39A in October. .

“Teams are working on the next commercial crew launch in parallel with planning for Artemis 1 and both launch schedules will continue to be evaluated in the coming weeks,” NASA said in the post.

Artemis 1: the leaks are fixed, a new critical test is coming soon

An important box checked on the engineers’ roadmap, but several variables still make it impossible to predict the launch date.

NASA announced that its engineers had replaced two of the failed seals that had led to hydrogen leaks on the Space Launch System, NASA’s launch vehicle which was due to take off on August 29 for the first of three Artemis program missions.

The launch has already been postponed twice. Each time, the cause was a malfunction identified at the level of a hydrogen pipe. Over the course of its investigations, the agency ended up going back to the source of the problem, namely two circular joints which were not perfectly sealed.

NASA did not say if it was an assembly problem, or if the parts had been damaged at another time. Today, however, it announced that these two elements could be replaced without concern on September 9th. In theory, the leaks should therefore finally be plugged.

A new filling test on September 17

From now on, we will have to make sure that these interventions have indeed made it possible to plug the leaks. NASA will carry out a new filling test of its enormous 98-meter high rocket, capable of carrying more than 3 million liters of hydrogen and liquid oxygen. This demonstration will allow the engineers to check the integrity of the new seals under conditions almost identical to those of the launch.

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