NASA again pauses crucial test of £5million ‘Mega Moon Rocket’ Artemis I

top line

On Monday, NASA interrupted a key “wet dress rehearsal” of Artemis I, the 5.75 million pound “Mega-Moon rocket” whose launch preparations have been plagued by various technical difficulties and a powerful lightning bolt, and which is expected to pave the way for manned ones Missions to the Moon and Mars.

Important facts

Monday’s sample, which should bring the rocket within seconds of launch, was scrubbed down by technicians found that is crucial vent valve on the launch platform could not be opened.

The two-day rehearsal was originally scheduled to end on Sunday but was halted after a problem was discovered with two fans used to keep dangerous gases out of the launch tower’s enclosed areas.

NASA announced via Twitter that the Artemis-I team intends to discuss how quickly the rocket can be readied for another wet dress rehearsal.

Before trying again, NASA must purge the rocket with super-cold liquid oxygen propellant that was loaded during the rehearsal aborted today, the agency said.

Although NASA has announced only one wet dress rehearsal for Artemis I, some space missions conduct multiple wet dress rehearsals, or static fire tests, where engines are fired at full thrust before proceeding with a launch, such as B. SpaceX’s Zuma satellite, which underwent two wet dress rehearsals before launch in 2018.

key background

Artemis I will be the first test of the Space Launch System (SLS), described by NASA as the most powerful rocket ever made, capable of conducting manned missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as robotic missions to Saturn, Jupiter and elsewhere. Departing from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Artemis I is scheduled to fly about 62 miles above the lunar surface and then use gravity to eject into a new orbit about 40,000 miles from the moon. The vehicle will then spend six days in that more distant orbit, collecting data and allowing NASA to measure its performance. Artemis I will then perform another close flyby of the Moon before returning to Earth and landing near California. Although technical difficulties have repeatedly delayed the final test of Artemis I, the rocket’s boosters can stand fully assembled for 18 months, six months longer than previous booster models. A series of lightning strikes on the Artemis I rocket on Saturday caused no damage, technicians said. Using data collected from the Artemis I mission, NASA hopes to launch a manned Artemis II rocket to the moon, which would be the first manned lunar visit since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

tangent

Failed valves and fans aren’t the worst thing that can happen in a wet dress rehearsal — in 2016, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a rehearsal and was completely destroyed along with its cargo, a Facebook satellite.

What to look out for

Artemis I is not scheduled to launch until June, and may not launch sooner Summer 2023.

Big number

1.3 million. This is how many kilometers the Artemis I is supposed to cover on its maiden voyage.

Surprising fact

Artemis I is 322 feet tall, 17 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty including the pedestal.

Further reading

“Artemis 1: NASA’s long-awaited moon mission could launch in 100 days. Here’s everything you need to know” (Forbes)

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