It will take a little while longer for NASA to make its much anticipated return to the moon.
The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which was scheduled to launch the Artemis I mission, was hauled back into the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center for protection as Hurricane Ian approached Florida.
Since the middle of August, the Orion capsule has been perched atop the towering rocket on the launch pad. Over the past month, NASA has had to cancel several launches due to technical issues.
As of right present, NASA believes that the best chance for the next Artemis I launch would be in November. Jim Free, an assistant administrator for NASA, stated in a press conference on Tuesday that the organisation plans to work on the rocket while it is in the VAB and replace parts that have a “limited life item.”
It’s a challenge to ask yourself, “Can we get in there, get [the job done], and get back out there for another launch attempt?” Free said. We don’t want to leave too soon and end up in a situation where we might not have finished all the limited life goods we wanted to.
“Limited life” refers to components for the rocket and capsule that must be routinely replaced or inspected, including batteries or fuel tanks.
The SLS and Orion spacecraft would make their official debuts on the Artemis I mission, which would involve a voyage around the moon that would take more than a month. As the first mission of the Artemis lunar programme, it begins NASA’s much anticipated return to the moon’s surface. By the third Artemis mission in 2025, the agency hopes to send astronauts to the moon.
Notably, this first mission is billions of dollars over budget and five years behind schedule. The Artemis programme has already spent more than $40 billion, a large portion of which went into the building of SLS and Orion. The system costs $4.1 billion to launch each time.