Why was NASA’s Artemis 1 launch canceled and what’s next? | Space News

The Artemis 1 launch was canceled due to a problem with one of the rocket engines.

A problem with an engine caused NASA to postpone the launch of its next-generation rocket on a long-awaited first test trip around the moon and back, delaying the Artemis 1 mission by half a century after the launch. Apollo’s last lunar operation.

The 98-meter (322-foot) two-stage Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion crew capsule were awaiting liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States, on Monday, when the count at countdown was halted 40 minutes before the launch window opened at 8:33 a.m. EDT (12:33 p.m. GMT).

The next available launch opportunity for the Artemis 1 mission is Friday at 12:48 p.m. EDT (4:48 p.m. GMT), depending on whether the launch team can resolve the engine issue, described as an “engine bleed issue” by Spaceflight Now, which closely follows the rocket launches.

Why Artemis Hasn’t Launched and Why It Matters

Launch workers had begun filling the rocket’s core fuel tanks with supercooled liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants on Monday when they identified a problem with one of the rocket’s main engines. . According to NASA, mission engineers struggled to bring the temperature of that number three engine to launch-ready levels.

The launch of the first Orion SLS heralds the official launch of the long-awaited Artemis moon-Mars program, the space agency’s replacement for the Apollo lunar missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Before NASA decides the 5.75 million pound craft is safe enough to carry astronauts on a future flight scheduled for 2024, this first mission is meant to put it through its paces in a demanding demonstration flight. and to push back its design limits. The Orion capsule that sits atop the rocket and is eventually to carry humans has three mannequins on board.

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(Al Jazeera)

In the space and rocket launch industry, last minute delays are not unusual and are quite common. Apart from the disappointment felt by tens of thousands of eager onlookers who had lined beaches and roads to watch Monday’s launch, the postponements are not seen as a major NASA setback for rocket makers Boeing. and Lockheed Martin.

“We don’t launch until it’s good,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a webcast interview after the launch delay. “It’s just to illustrate that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all of these things have to work. And you don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to operate.

Already late

The SLS, which has been in development for about ten years, is already more than five years behind schedule.

According to The Planetary Society, the program’s development costs went way over budget, dropping from $7 billion to about $23 billion.

The SLS, marketed as the most powerful and sophisticated rocket ever created, is the largest new vertical launch system produced by the US space agency since the Saturn V rocket used for the Apollo missions 50 years ago.

Members of the news media wait and NASA's next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), with its Orion crew capsule on top, sits on the mat before the mission launch Artemis I Be Erased, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.
Members of the media wait for NASA’s next-generation moon rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS), with its Orion crew capsule on top – to be on the launch pad before the Artemis I mission is launched. cleaned, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. [Thom Baur/Reuters]

To the Moon then Mars

NASA hopes to send astronauts back to the moon as early as 2025, including the first woman and first person of color to set foot on the lunar surface – that is, if the first two Artemis missions are successful.

The Artemis program ultimately hopes to establish a long-term lunar outpost, which NASA sees as an important stepping stone to an even bigger goal of sending astronaut missions to Mars. But according to the US space agency, it could take until the late 2030s.

The Apollo 17 mission in December 1972 was the last time humans walked on the moon, following in the footsteps of 10 other astronauts on five previous missions, starting with Apollo 11 in 1969.

Although there are no humans on board, Orion will carry a simulated crew of three mannequins – one male and two female – equipped with sensors to gauge the levels of radiation and other pressures at which human astronauts might be. confronted.

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