NASA announces the third launch date of its giant rocket

The rollout began Thursday (March 17) at 5:47 PM EST.

NASA has announced that NASA’s giant moon rocket is now scheduled to make its third take-off attempt on September 27.

The Artemis 1 rocket consists of a six-man Orion capsule atop the 30-story Space Launch System (SLS) – dubbed the “Super Moon Rocket” – and was initially scheduled to embark on its maiden flight to the moon and back on August 29.

But technical difficulties thwarted the first two attempts to launch the missile. NASA canceled the rocket’s first attempt because engineers were unable to cool one of the rocket’s four primary-stage RS-25 engines to a safe temperature in time for takeoff. The agency announced that it fixed the problem, blaming it on a malfunction of the temperature sensor. Then, during the rocket’s second attempt, an alarm went off while the vehicle was being loaded with supercooled liquid hydrogen fuel, alerting engineers to a gap in the seal of one of the rocket’s engines. NASA said engineers tried and failed to plug the leak three times.

Related: Lightning strikes on the Artemis I mission’s Mega Moon rocket launch pad during tests

NASA said the leak was at a “quick disconnect” where the SLS core stage met the fuel line from the portable rocket’s launch tower, which the agency repaired by replacing two seals at the point of the leak. The US space agency says the closest launch opportunity will be on September 27, with a backup opportunity on October 2. NASA engineers plan to prove the leak was corrected by performing a test of a propellant injection into the craft on Sept. 17.

“The updated dates represent careful consideration of multiple logistical topics, including the added value of having more time to prepare for cryo-specific demonstration testing, and therefore more time to prepare for launch,” NASA officials wrote in a blog post announcing the new launch. Date. “The dates also allow managers to ensure teams get enough rest and replenish their refrigerated fuel supply.”

Orion is planned to make two flybys of the Moon 62 miles (100 km) above the lunar surface, flying up to 40,000 miles (64,000 km) behind the Moon before returning to Earth 38 days after launch.

NASA has stored three mannequins on board the capsule that will be used to test radiation and heat levels during the flight. Soft Snoopy is also along for the ride, floating inside the capsule as a zero-gravity indicator.

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When Orion returns, it is set to return hotter and faster than any spacecraft ever, heating up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,800 degrees Celsius) when it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere at 32 times the speed of sound. This will test the capsule’s traction heat shield, which, along with the craft’s canopy, will use air friction to slow Orion down to just 20 mph (32.2 km/h), after which it should drop safely into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. , ready for retrieval.

Flight will follow Artemis 2 and Artemis 3 in 2024 and 2025/2026 respectively. Artemis 2 will take the same flight as Artemis 1, but with a crew of four, and Artemis 3 will send the first woman and first person of color to land on the south pole of the moon.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 ahead of the second launch attempt, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the test mission would be a catalyst for technological innovation and a crucial next step in humanity’s exploration of the universe.

“This time we won’t just go down [on the Moon] and we leave after a few hours or a few days – we will come back to learn, live, work, explore and determine if there is water; so on [moon’s] Antarctica means we have rocket fuel, Nelson said, and we have a gas station there. “This time we will learn how to live in that hostile environment for long periods of time, all with the goal of being to Mars.”

Originally published on Live Science.

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