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HomeNEWSArtemis I launch rescheduled after scrub: What to Know

Artemis I launch rescheduled after scrub: What to Know

NASA will move forward with a second launch attempt of Artemis I on Saturday, with the megarocket’s two-hour launch window set to open at 2:17 p.m. Eastern Time.

On Monday, the launch was scrubbed after one of the Space Launch System’s (SLS) four RS-25 engines on the bottom of its core stage failed to reach the proper temperature range for liftoff.

During the first launch attempt, readings showed SLS’ engine 3 appeared to be as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the desired minus 420 degrees Fahrenheit, according to SLS program manager John Honeycutt. The three other engines came up just a little short.

Other issues encountered during Monday’s launch window included storms in the area that delayed the start of propellant loading operations, a leak at the quick disconnect on the 8-inch line used to fill and drain core stage liquid hydrogen and a hydrogen leak from a valve used to vent the propellant from the core stage intertank.

On Thursday, SLS engineers said that all four of the rocket’s main engines were good and that a faulty temperature sensor caused engine 3 to appear as though it were too warm. Honeycutt has said that the sensor would be “tricky” to fix at the launch pad and that rolling SLS back into Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building could result in weeks of delay.

In preparation for Saturday, Artemis program manager Michael Sarafin said that the team would change its operational procedure for loading propellant into the rocket and try chilling the engines about 30 to 45 minutes earlier in the countdown. Even if the suspect temperature sensor indicates the one engine is too warm, other sensors can be relied on to ensure everything is working correctly and to halt the countdown if there’s a problem, Honeycutt told reporters.

The team will also do some work at the launch pad to prevent another leak from occurring in the rocket’s hydrogen tail service mast umbilical.

The U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 is predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions at the beginning of the two-hour launch window and an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions toward the later part of the window.

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If the launch is successful, SLS’ Orion capsule will travel into space for about six-weeks before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on October 11. Assuming the test goes well, astronauts would climb aboard for Artemis II and fly around the moon and back as soon as 2024. A two-person lunar landing could follow by the end of 2025.

The SLS and Orion have been under development for more than a decade, with years of delays and ballooning costs that have run to at least $37 billion as of last year. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has called the Artemis program an “economic engine,” noting that in 2019 alone, for example, it generated $14 billion in commerce and supported 70,000 American jobs.

Contractors who have worked on SLS and Orion include Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The 322-foot rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA, out-muscling even the Saturn V that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon. Astronauts last walked on the moon in 1972.

Take two. NASA readies its second launch attempt for its Artemis 1 moon mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA workers are once again getting the agency’s new moon rocket ready for its first test flight, and if all goes well the rocket will blast off during a two-hour launch window that starts at 2:17 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

“We’re going to show up, and we’re going to try, and we’re going to give it our best,” said Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager, during a press briefing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the 32-story-tall rocket, with a crew capsule on top, is waiting on the launch pad.

NASA’s first effort to launch this rocket had to be scuttled on Monday morning after a sensor indicated that one of the rocket’s four engines didn’t seem to be cooling down to the proper temperature of approximately minus-420 degrees Fahrenheit.

After studying the problem and troubleshooting, officials said it’s clear the engine was actually fine and a sensor was giving a false temperature reading. “We know we had a bad sensor,” said John Honeycutt, program manager for this rocket at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

It’s been almost 50 years since the space agency last launched a vehicle designed to carry people to the moon. NASA has named its new moon program Artemis, after the twin sister of the Greek god Apollo, and has vowed to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.

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No astronauts will be on board the Artemis rocket during its long-anticipated first mission, but this flight will be a critical test of how NASA’s new vehicle will perform in space and during the fiery return to Earth.

The weather forecast for this launch window seems favorable, with a 60% chance that conditions will be right for liftoff. “Basically, the weather looks good,” said weather officer Melody Lovin with Space Launch Delta 45. “I don’t expect weather to be a show stopper.”

But if weather does prevent the rocket from flying, NASA can try again on Monday.

Once this rocket successfully lifts off, it will send a crew capsule called Orion on a journey to orbit the moon, coming within about 60 miles of the lunar surface. After more than five weeks, it will return home and splash down in the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 11.

The next flight of this rocket will carry people, but it isn’t scheduled until 2024. The agency is targeting a 2025 moon landing — although most space watchers expect delays, as this rocket is already years behind its original schedule. Congress had wanted it to fly in 2016, just five years after NASA retired its aging fleet of space shuttles.

Critics say the Artemis program will be too expensive to be sustainable if NASA depends on this rocket and capsule, which come with a hefty price tag. NASA’s inspector general has said that each of the first few flights will cost more than $4 billion, and that doesn’t include billions of dollars in development costs.

Meanwhile, the private company SpaceX, which currently ferries astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, is developing its own megarocket and space vehicle called Starship. This rocket is expected to have its first flight soon and is designed to be both reusable and inexpensive. NASA has already said it will rely on SpaceX to develop Starship as a lunar lander, to get its astronauts from lunar orbit down to the surface.

NASA is ‘go’ for a second launch attempt of Artemis I today, but encountering fueling issues

Turn to CNN for live coverage from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday afternoon. Space correspondent Kristin Fisher will bring us moment-by-moment reporting from the launch, along with a team of experts.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida (CNN)The uncrewed Artemis I mission is battling fueling issues as it prepares for a second chance at launching on a historic journey around the moon

Shortly before 5 a.m. ET, mission managers received a weather briefing and decided to proceed with loading propellant into the rocket. The countdown clock resumed at 7:07 a.m. ET.

There was at least a 30-minute delay after a liquid hydrogen leak was detected at 7:15 a.m. ET in the quick disconnect cavity that feeds the rocket with hydrogen in the engine section of the core stage. It was a different leak than one that occurred ahead of the scrubbed launch on Monday.

The launch controllers warmed up the line in an attempt to get a tight seal and the flow of liquid hydrogen resumed before a leak reoccurred. They stopped the flow of liquid hydrogen and proceeded to “close the valve used to fill and drain it, then increase pressure on a ground transfer line using helium to try to reseal it,” according to NASA.

That troubleshooting plan was not successful, and now the team is going to reattempt the first plan to warm up the line.

The launch window opens at 2:17 p.m. ET and closes at 4:17 p.m. ET on Saturday. NASA’s live coverage began at 5:45 a.m. ET on its website and TV channel.

This process has put the team behind schedule, but it’s unclear how much of a delay it will cause in the countdown because they may be able to make up some time later.

Meanwhile, the core stage liquid oxygen tank is full. Both propellants need to be filled within certain proportions to one another before launch. Liquid hydrogen is currently at 9% full.

There is a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch, with chances increasing to 80% favorable toward the end of the window, according to weather officer Melody Lovin.

The Artemis I stack, which includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, sits on Launchpad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Artemis I mission is just the beginning of a program that will aim to return humans to the moon and eventually land crewed missions on Mars.

If the mission launches on Saturday, it will go on a journey around the moon and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on October 11. There is still a backup opportunity for the Artemis I mission to launch on September 5 as well.

In the last few days, the launch team has taken time to address issues, like hydrogen leaks, that cropped up ahead of Monday’s planned launch before it was scrubbed. The team has also completed a risk assessment of an engine conditioning issue and a foam crack that also cropped up, according to NASA officials.

Both are considered to be acceptable risks heading into the launch countdown, according to Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager.

On Monday, a sensor on one of the rocket’s four RS-25 engines, identified as engine #3, reflected that the engine could not reach the proper temperature range required for the engine to start at liftoff.

The engines need to be thermally conditioned before super-cold propellant flows through them before liftoff. To prevent the engines from experiencing any temperature shocks, launch controllers gradually increase the pressure of the core stage liquid hydrogen tank in the hours before launch to send a small amount of liquid hydrogen to the engines. This is known as a “bleed.”

The team has since determined it was a bad sensor providing the reading — they plan to ignore the faulty sensor moving forward, according to John Blevins, Space Launch Systems chief engineer.

The bleed, originally expected to occur around 8 a.m. ET, is currently on hold.

Mission overview
After Artemis I launches, Orion’s journey will last 37 days as it travels to the moon, loops around it and returns to Earth — traveling a total of 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers).

While the passenger list doesn’t include any humans, it does have passengers: three mannequins and a plush Snoopy toy will ride in Orion.

The crew aboard Artemis I may sound a little unusual, but they each serve a purpose. Snoopy will serve as the zero gravity indicator — meaning that he will begin to float inside the capsule once it reaches the space environment.

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The mannequins, named Commander Moonikin Campos, Helga and Zohar, will measure the deep space radiation future crews could experience and test out new suit and shielding technology. A biology experiment carrying seeds, algae, fungi and yeast is also tucked inside Orion to measure how life reacts to this radiation as well.

Additional science experiments and technology demonstrations are also riding in a ring on the rocket. From there, 10 small satellites, called CubeSats, will detach and go their separate ways to collect information on the moon and the deep space environment.

Cameras inside and outside of Orion will share images and video throughout the mission, including live views from the Callisto experiment, which will capture a stream of Commander Moonikin Campos sitting in the commander’s seat. And if you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, you can ask it about the mission’s location each day.

Expect to see views of Earthrise similar to what was shared for the first time during the Apollo 8 mission back in 1968, but with much better cameras and technology.

The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will kick off a phase of NASA space exploration that intends to land diverse astronaut crews at previously unexplored regions of the moon — on the Artemis II and Artemis III missions, slated for 2024 and 2025 respectively — and eventually delivers crewed missions to Mars.

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