NASA abandoned a second attempt to get its new 30-story rocket into space due to a fuel leak, announcing Saturday that it would not try again during the current window of opportunity that ends early next week.
The current launch period for NASA’s Artemis 1 mission ends on Tuesday, determined by the positions of the Earth and the moon, and is “certainly out of the discussion,” Jim Ferry, associate administrator for exploration systems development, said on Saturday’s presentation. said at a news conference, but no new date was confirmed.
According to NASA, the next possible launch window is Sept. 19-Oct. 4, followed by Oct. 17-31.
Millions of people around the world gathered on beaches in Florida hoping to witness the historic launch of the Space Launch System (SLS), but a leak was discovered near the bottom of the rocket due to an injection of ultra-cold liquid hydrogen.
“The launch director has abandoned Artemis 1 for today’s launch,” NASA said in a statement. “Multiple troubleshooting efforts to address the spill area… did not resolve the issue.”
Astronaut Victor Glover told reporters that the latest delay “was the right decision after you found out about this leak.”
“These (are) very sophisticated machines. When you look at scrubs, people should gain confidence, not lose confidence.”
Monday’s first launch attempt was also halted after engineers detected a fuel leak and sensors showed one of the rocket’s four main engines was too hot.
– Next month? –
The rocket may have to be towed back to its assembly building for periodic certification tests.
Shortly after Saturday’s launch was canceled, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the next attempt may have to be delayed until mid-October, as the crew will use the Kennedy Space Center to travel to the International Space Station early next month.
Early in the morning, launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson had given the go-ahead to start filling the rocket’s tanks with cryogenic fuel.
About 3 million liters of ultra-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen were to be pumped into the spacecraft, but the process quickly ran into problems, which Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin later described as an “uncontrollable leak.” .
The purpose of the Artemis 1 mission is to verify whether the Orion capsule atop an SLS rocket can safely carry astronauts in the future.
A mannequin equipped with sensors is serving astronauts on the mission and will record acceleration, vibration and radiation levels.
– Apollo’s twin sister –
Once launched, the spacecraft will take a few days to reach the moon, flying about 60 miles (100 kilometers) at its closest approach.
The capsule will start its engines to reach a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) 40,000 miles from the moon, a record for a crewed spacecraft rated.
One of the main goals of the trip, which is expected to last about six weeks, is to test the capsule’s heat shield, which at 16 feet in diameter is the largest ever.
On reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, the heat shield must withstand speeds of 25,000 miles per hour and temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius)—about half the temperature of the sun.
Artemis was named after the twin sister of the Greek god Apollo, after whom the first mission to the moon was named.
Unlike the Apollo missions, which landed only white men on the moon between 1969 and 1972, the Artemis mission will see the first people of color and the first women set foot on the lunar surface.
After years of delays and cost overruns, a successful Artemis 1 mission would be a huge relief for NASA.
A government audit estimates the cost of the Artemis program will rise to $93 billion by 2025, with each of its first four missions costing as much as $4.1 billion per launch.
The next mission, Artemis 2, will bring astronauts to the moon without landing on the lunar surface.
The crew of Artemis 3 will land on the moon as early as 2025, with subsequent missions envisioning a lunar space station and a sustainable presence on the lunar surface.
A crewed trip to the Red Planet in Orion could be attempted in the late 2030s, which will last several years.
(Apart from the title, this story was unedited by NDTV staff and was posted from a syndicated feed.)