Artemis I: NASA’s Mega Moon rocket is back on the launch pad for the next launch attempt

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The hulking rocket at the heart of NASA’s plans to return humans to the moon arrived at the launch pad Friday morning as the space agency prepares for another attempt to get the Artemis I mission off the ground.

Liftoff of the uncrewed test mission is scheduled for Nov. 14, with a 69-minute launch window opening at 12:07 a.m. ET. The launch will be live streamed NASA website.

The Space Launch System, or SLS rocket, began the hourlong trek from its indoor shelter at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Pad 39B. Late Thursday evening. After about 9 hours it reached its destination.

The rocket was shelved after a few weeks Problems related to fuel leakage It thwarted the first two missile attempts, then A A hurricane swept through FloridaForce the rocket to evacuate the launch pad and go to safety.

The Artemis team was monitoring the storm for a possible return to Florida, but according to Jim Free, associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, officials were confident of moving forward with the evacuation.

The unnamed storm may form near Puerto Rico over the weekend and slowly move northwest early next week, said meteorologist Mark Burger, a missile meteorologist at the U.S. Air Force base at Cape Canaveral.

“The National Hurricane Center has a 30% chance of becoming a named storm,” Burger said. “However, that being said, the models are very consistent in developing some kind of low pressure.”

Weather officials do not expect it to become a strong system, but they will watch for potential impacts by the middle of next week, he said.

Returning the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) SLS rocket to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, gave engineers a chance to take a closer look at the problems. They are harassing Rocket To do maintenance.

In September, NASA raced against the clock to get Artemis I off the ground because if it spent too much time on the launch pad without liftoff, it risked draining batteries essential to the mission. Done by Engineers Recharge or replace the batteries across the rocket and the Orion spacecraft sat on top of it in the VAB.

The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the Moon for the first time in half a century. The Artemis I mission — expected to be the first of many — will lay the groundwork for testing the rocket and spacecraft and all their subsystems to ensure astronauts are safe enough to fly to the moon and back.

But trying to get this first mission off the ground. The SLS rocket, which cost approximately $4 billion, ran into problems As it was loaded with supercooled liquid hydrogen, a series of leaks developed. A faulty sensor He gave more Inaccurate measurements were made when the rocket tried to “stabilize” its engines, a process that cools the engines so they are not shocked by the temperature of its supercooled fuel.

NASA worked To fix both problems. The Artemis team decided to cover up the faulty sensor, essentially ignoring the data it was releasing. And following a second launch attempt in September, the space agency Conducted another ground test While the rocket was on the launch pad.

The purpose of the cryogenic demonstration is to test the seals and use the updated “inter and soft” loading procedures of the supercold propellant, which the rocket will experience on launch day. Although the test did not go exactly as planned, NASA said it met all of its objectives.

NASA officials reiterated that these delays were due to technical problems There is no need to point out a significant problem With the rocket.

Before SLS, NASA’s Space Shuttle The program, which flew for 30 years, endured often scrubbed launches. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets also have a history of scrubs for mechanical or technical problems.

“I want to reflect that this is a challenging task,” Frei said. “We saw challenges in getting all our systems to work together, and that’s why we’re doing a flight test. It’s going after things that can’t be modeled. And we’re taking a lot of risk and learning in this mission before we get the crew out there.

The Artemis I mission is expected to pave the way for other missions to the moon. After liftoff, the Orion capsule, designed to carry astronauts, sits atop the rocket and separates as it reaches space. It will fly empty except for one or two for this mission Mannequins. The Orion capsule will spend a few days maneuvering the Moon before entering its orbit, returning home a few days later.

In total, the mission is expected to last 25 days, with the Orion capsule’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego set for Dec. 9.

The purpose of the mission is to collect data and test hardware, navigation and other systems to ensure both the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule are ready to host astronauts. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person on the lunar surface this decade.

The Artemis II mission, planned for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the Moon, but with a crew on board. In 2025, Artemis III is expected to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.

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