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The giant rocket at the heart of NASA’s plans to return humans to the moon is back on the launch pad like friday The space agency prepares for another attempt to get the Artemis I mission off the ground.
Liftoff of the uncrewed test mission is scheduled for November 14, with a launch window of 69 minutes, opening at 12:07 AM. The presentation will be broadcast live on NASA’s website.
The Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket began its 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) trek from its inner shelter to Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Thursday evening.
The rocket was in storage for weeks with fuel leaks that thwarted the first two launch attempts and then a hurricane swept through Florida, forcing the rocket to pull away from launch and scramble to safety.
The Artemis team is once again tracking a possible storm toward Florida, but feels confident moving forward with the launch deployment, said Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate.
The unnamed storm could develop near Puerto Rico over the weekend and slowly move northwest early next week, said meteorologist Mark Burger, the US Air Force’s Cape Canaveral launch weather officer.
“The National Hurricane Center has only a 30 percent chance of becoming a major storm,” Burger said. “However, having said that, the patterns are very consistent for low pressure to develop.”
Weather officials don’t expect the system to be a strong one, but they will be watching for potential impacts into the middle of next week, he said.
Returning the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) SLS rocket to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, allowed engineers to study the problems more closely. hit the rocket perform maintenance
in September, NASA raced against the clock to get Artemis I off the ground because there was a risk of draining the mission-critical batteries if too much time went by after launch without taking off. Engineers were able to charge or replace batteries on the rocket and the Orion spacecraft while sitting atop the VAB.
The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the moon for the first time in half a century. And the Artemis I mission—hoped to be the first of many—will lay the groundwork, testing the rocket and spacecraft and all their subsystems to make sure they’re safe enough for astronauts to get to the Moon and back.
But the first mission was to try to get it off the ground. The SLS rocket, which cost approximately $4 trillion, ran into problems as it was loaded with super-cooled liquid hydrogen, creating a series of discharges. Defective sensor also give incorrect readings when the rocket attempted to “condition” its engines, a process that cools the engines so they are not shocked by the temperatures of the supercooled fuel.
NASA has worked to solve two problems. The Artemis team decided to hide the faulty sensor, essentially ignoring the data it provides. And after the second launch attempt in September, the space agency conducted another ground test while the rocket was still under launch.
The purpose of the cryogenic demonstration was to test the seals and use the updated “kinder and smoother” supercold propellant loading procedure, which is what the rocket would experience on launch day. Although the test did not go as planned, NASA said that it met all its objectives.
NASA officials reiterated that these delays and technical problems do not necessarily indicate major problems with the rocket.
Before SLS, NASA’s space shuttle the program, which flew for 30 years, suffered frequent clean-up shots. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets also have a history of bugs for mechanical or technical problems.
“I want to reflect on the fact that this is a challenging mission,” Free said. “We have seen the challenges of getting all our systems to work together and that is why we are doing a flight test. It’s about going after things that can’t be modeled. And we’re learning to take more risks on this mission before we put the crew there.”
The Artemis I mission is expected to pave the way for other missions to the moon After liftoff, the Orion capsule, which is designed to carry astronauts and sits atop the rocket during liftoff, will separate as it reaches space. It will be empty for this mission, except for a couple of mannequins. The Orion capsule will spend a few days maneuvering towards the moon before entering its orbit and a few days later before starting its journey back home.
In total, the mission is expected to last 25 days, and the launch of the Orion capsule into the Pacific Ocean in San Diego is scheduled for December 9.
The purpose of the trip is to collect data and test hardware, navigation and other systems to ensure the SLS rocket and Orion capsule are ready to carry astronauts. The aim of the Artemis program is to land the first woman of color and the first person of color on the lunar surface this decade.
The Artemis II mission, scheduled for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the moon, but will have a crew on board. And in 2025, Artemis III is expected to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.