Following the cancellation of the launch on Monday due to an engine failure, NASA has stated that it will attempt to launch the Artemis I lunar mission once more on Saturday.
The launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft by the space agency is planned for a mission around the moon that would take more than a month.
With less than two hours left in the countdown on Monday, NASA was unable to fix a temperature issue with one of the rocket’s four liquid-fueled engines. Given that a data analysis revealed propellant was flowing as it should have, NASA’s manager of the SLS programme John Honeycutt stated during a press conference on Tuesday that the organisation believes the engine problem was caused by a defective sensor.
According to Honeycutt, the technical team for the rocket is still analysing the data and needs to “polish up on our plan” in order to make a Saturday launch feasible. There could be a delay of several weeks or months before another launch attempt if NASA needs to roll SLS off the launchpad in order to reach the engine sensor
It would be difficult to replace the sensor at the launchpad, according to Honeycutt.
According to Mike Sarafin, the mission manager for NASA’s Artemis I mission, the crew will alter how propellant is loaded into the rocket and will begin attempting to cool the engine to the ideal temperature earlier in the countdown.
Notably, Space Force weather launch officer Mark Burger said that the weather is still an issue for whether NASA can attempt the launch on Saturday
Burger stated during the press conference that “the probability of weather violation at any time in the countdown still looks to me fairly high.”
Saturday at 2:17 p.m. ET, according to NASA, a two-hour launch window opens, with a potential liftoff time of 4:17 p.m. ET. Burger noted that despite a prognosis that the weather would prohibit the rocket from launching by about 60%, “I still think we have a really decent opportunity” due to the size of the launch window.
The unmanned launch, which marks the beginning of NASA’s much anticipated return to the moon’s surface, is expected to be the first of the agency’s most potent rocket ever created. It heralds the launch of NASA’s Artemis lunar programme, which aims to send astronauts to the moon by the third mission, scheduled for 2025.
The Artemis I mission is crucial for demonstrating that NASA’s massive rocket and deep space capsule can live up to their boasts of prowess, even though it won’t carry humans or land on the moon. Artemis I has been years behind schedule and vastly over budget ever since the project’s beginning.