NASA has a new launch date for its Artemis I mega-rocket

NASA Launches Artemis I On Moon Orbit Mission
NASA’s Artemis I rocket | Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NASA’s Artemis I rocket is now set to lift off on September 27, with a “potential” backup date scheduled for October 2 if things don’t go as planned. The agency originally considered trying the launch again as early as the 23rd, but decided on a later date after “careful consideration of several logistical matters.”

The Artemis I mission will use NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket to catapult an uncrewed Orion capsule around the Moon as part of the agency’s effort to return humans to the lunar surface by 2025. So As NASA’s first launch attempt was aborted due to an engine problem, the second attempt on September 3 ended prematurely after the Artemis I team detected a hydrogen leak that engineers didn’t could not repair.

To make sure things go well this time around, NASA is making some preparations. The Artemis I team has already finished working on the hydrogen leak, which involved replacing seals around the “quick disconnect” system that helps funnel cold, frigid liquid hydrogen into the rocket. Engineers have scheduled a test on Sept. 21 to see if the quick-disconnect holds under the cryogenic conditions required by the launch.

There’s also the question of whether NASA will have to test the rocket’s flight termination system batteries, which the Space Force can use to destroy the rocket if something goes wrong during its flight. To test the system, NASA would have to take the SLS back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, a four-mile journey that takes hours. It is ultimately up to the Space Force to decide whether or not NASA can proceed without testing. NASA has already secured an extension to extend the rocket’s certification from 20 to 25 days, but the Space Force still decides to grant the agency another.

“NASA continues to respect the process of reviewing the agency’s request for an extension of the current testing requirement for the flight shutdown system and is providing additional information and data as needed,” the statement wrote. NASA in the post. “In parallel, the agency is continuing preparations for the cryogenic demonstration test and potential launch opportunities, should the application be approved.”

If all works, NASA will attempt to launch the rocket on September 27 with a 70-minute launch window opening at 11:37 a.m. ET. The launch date is sandwiched between two other major space events, with NASA due to send a spacecraft crashing into an asteroid as part of its Double Asteroid Redirect (DART) mission on September 26, and NASA crews and SpaceX are heading to the International Space Station. the 3rd of October.

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