Another unforeseen issue has caused Artemis I to be postponed once more. On Saturday, a liquid hydrogen leak occurred during the fuel loading process for the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s massive Moon rocket. Is the third time lucky? We may be looking at October as NASA has already ruled out another “early September” launch attempt.
Although there is undeniable sadness for both experts and those hoping to see the start of NASA’s upcoming grand lunar expedition, Artemis I is first and foremost a test. The mission is uncrewed and lengthier than what is anticipated for the first crewed Artemis missions because the SLS and Orion spacecraft have never been launched into space.
Before allowing humans to come close to it, the goal is to have the utmost degree of certainty of safety.
Bill Nelson, the director of NASA, stated at a press conference on Saturday that “the cost of two scrubs is a lot less than a failure.” We don’t deploy until we feel it’s appropriate.
The mission crew will choose when the subsequent launch attempt will take place sometime between now and tomorrow. Despite September 29-30 being ruled out, the first potential launch window begins on September 19 and ends on October 4. The next one starts on October 17 and lasts through October 31.
A command that was accidentally issued to the system to increase the pressure in the rocket’s tank prior to fueling operations could have been the source of the leak. The seal may have shifted as a result, resulting in the leak. The team is examining whether this played any role in the leak or if another factor is solely to blame.
Due to the SpaceX rocket carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station, the launch in late September or early October may be more challenging to execute. Currently set to launch on October 3, Crew-5 will include astronaut Nicole Aunapu, the first Native American woman in orbit.
Another problem is that Artemis won’t be able to obtain the certification for the flight termination system from the Eastern Range if it remains on the launchpad. If SLS follows an unforeseen and hazardous course, this is how the rocket will self-destruct. The rocket will need to be rolled back in and out before another launch attempt can be made since the system batteries need to be reset every 25 days, and that can only be done at the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center.