The launch of NASA’s giant moon rocket is delayed after an issue with its engine

NASA’s hopes of launching a massive Space Launch System rocket Monday on a test flight to the Moon from Kennedy Space Center have been put on hold for days as NASA engineers failed to fix an engine problem. Hence this test has been postponed.

NASA's Artemis I moon rocket sits at Launch Pad Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in June.

As one of the four SLS core-stage engines failed to reach the proper temperature for launch, the Artemis I mission’s launch director asked it to liftoff on Monday morning and the mission averted. With just 40 minutes left in the countdown, which is scheduled as 8:33 a.m. ET, flight controllers had put the flight on hold while engineers investigated the problem.

Engineers were working on a number of subjects for this predetermined launch. As in early Saturday, there was some concern in the beginning due to lightning on the pad. Officials later confirmed there was no damage to the vehicle, capsule or ground equipment. This was followed by a weather delay of just 45 minutes on Monday morning, which slowed down the main stage hydrogen refueling process. Meanwhile, a leak was also discovered, but this too was later resolved.

“We’re not ready to launch until we find a solution to this problem,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said after Monday’s decision to scrub.


“It’s a very complex type of machine, a very complex system, and so it’s very important to get all those things working,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “You don’t want to light a candle until it’s ready to take off. This sentence was said by him because he himself was a former space shuttle astronaut,unmanned Artemis I If we have the next launch, that next launch opportunity is Friday. The flight is meant as an initial step to eventually return humans to the surface of the Moon – a flight that could take place as early as 2025.

The 30-story SLS rocket, topped by an uncrewed Orion spacecraft, rolled off earlier this month at the same historic launch complex that NASA used during the Apollo moonshots that ended in 1972 by the mighty Saturn V .

An illustration shows the Space Launch System configuration for the Artemis I mission. NASA

This first mission to Artemis – named after Apollo’s twin sister, – is a trial run of the hardware needed to go to the Moon for a longer-lasting and more scientific approach.

“It’s an unimaginable step forward for all of mankind,” NASA astronaut Nicole Mann told NPR’s All Things Considered. “This time we’re going to be on the Moon. And that’s actually the building block for exploring Mars.” NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to be worth $93 billion, promises to refocus NASA’s long-term human spaceflight goals, making it a crew base near the Moon’s South Pole. There is a plan to set up so that the way to establish a crew mission to Mars should be simplified. But an important part of this program is when the vehicle that will actually land on the surface of the Moon – let me tell you, will not be part of the first Artemis mission. Elon Musk-founded SpaceX has been contracted to build a lunar version of its Starship to take astronauts to the surface.

The vehicle is yet to be tested in orbit. Another component of the original Artemis program, the Gateway, a type of deep-space routing station for astronauts to and from a future Moon base, is still under development.

This mission is a modern mission with retro look.

In this mission, SLS sports an improved version of the solid-rocket booster used by the Space Shuttle. , which last flew more than a decade ago, along with four RS-25 engines that were refurbished and reused after flying on the first Shuttle mission. The upper part of the rocket would be controlled by a type of engine first developed in the late 1950s.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the SLS Core Stage and Upper Stage. Boeing’s chief engineer for the SLS program, Noel Zeitzman, has said that in building the giant rocket, engineers drew from the “foundations and fundamentals” of the Saturn V and Space Shuttle years.

“We’ve got our missions now that we’re focused on the Moon right now,” she says. “But [SLS] is for deep space exploration. … So, the potential is much, much bigger than just a moon landing.”

In this mission, the cone-shaped Orion spacecraft, which will carry four astronauts to lunar orbit on future missions. It resembles an Apollo-era “command module”. Finally, a European service module attached to Orion is comparable in function to Apollo’s service module and will provide propulsion, power, water, oxygen and climate control for future crews. Which is pretty disgusting.


The short six-week Artemis I test flight will take Orion in what is known as a distant retrograde orbit, a rectangular circuit that will take it just 62 miles above the Moon’s surface at one point and the Moon at another. . Artemis I’s Orion will fly without some life support systems and crew support items or docking systems that won’t be needed on the first flight, says Mike Hayes, Orion program manager at Lockheed Martin, which is building the capsule.

A NASA illustration shows the Artemis I mission profile.

Instead, three mannequins equipped with radiation and vibration sensors will sit on the vehicle. “Getting information about the radiation profile and having long exposures in this unique lunar orbit is really important to us because it gets us ready to fly the crew,” Hawes says.

NASA plans to fly four astronauts aboard Artemis II in 2024, with Artemis III scheduled for the program’s first landing a year later. The space agency says the program will eventually put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

But delays and cost overruns have plagued Artemis and its predecessor constellation for years. A NASA inspector general report released last year predicted the space agency would “exceed its timetable” for the first Artemis moon landing by “several years”.

After liftoff, Artemis I will enter low-Earth orbit, where Orion’s service module will unfurl solar panels before raising itself to a higher orbit in preparation for its four-day journey to lunar orbit.

Artemis could be key in getting to Mars

In the future, when NASA makes a landing, it hopes to find an ice mine from which there is a possibility of water which has been confirmed deep in polar craters where sunlight has never reached. Water – a vital resource for producing drinkable, breathable oxygen and eventually rocket fuel. The surface of the moon will prove to be an invaluable step for the crew flying to Mars. With this, the low gravity in the Moon will be beneficial in launching such missions.

NASA recently announced 13 sites near the Moon’s south pole are the next candidates for the Artemis III surface mission a few years from now. With this, those places were selected for landing which are easy to land and also get sunlight, the main reason for this a spacecraft can generate solar energy.

“The Moon’s south pole is an absolutely geologic region,” says lunar geologist David Kring of the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration in Houston, Texas. “We’re going to learn a lot about the evolution of the Moon.” “When we better understand the evolution of the Moon, we can better understand the evolution of our planet Earth.

However, this polar mission will be something new. It represents a departure from Apollo, which placed a dozen astronauts at sites all near the Moon’s equator. “To the south the topography looks a little more remarkable, simply because the angle to the Sun is so low,” says Bethany Ehlmann, associate director of the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology.

Ehlman leads a team responsible for the Lunar Trailblazer, a robotic mission set for next year that will produce detailed maps of permanently shadowed crater areas that may contain ice. At the South Pole, “the terrain is comparable” to the Apollo landing sites near the equator, she says. “And clearly, the landing systems are better now than they were in the 1970s.”

Brendan Byrne of member station WMFE contributed to this story from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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