Photo Credit: NASA
The Artemis I may not complete the entire mission as intended following a second issue that NASA’s launch team encountered last Saturday.
The ship is scheduled to go on missions in September and October. The team may experience delays with the aforementioned schedules, though, as a result of the new circumstances. According to NASA, the delays could vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the launch team’s evaluation of Artemis I.
Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator from the Exploration Systems Development Mission Doctorate, said, “We will not be launching in this launch period. We are not where we wanted to be.”
The vessel, which is made up of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft, needs to be transferred to and inspected by the Vehicle Assembly Building before being approved for its upcoming mission.
NASA’s administrator, Bill Nelson, asserted that Artemis I is not a failure despite the scrubs the team experienced. He told the media that prior to its scheduled launch date, Artemis had already undergone 20 inspections and reevaluations by the Vehicle Assembly Building.
“We do not launch until we think it’s right,” stated Nelson. “These teams have labored over that, and that is the conclusion they came to. I look at this as part of our space program, in which safety is the top of the list.”
The problem that stopped Artemis I
Last Saturday, Artemis I got a call from the members three hours before its timed launch. The members discovered a liquid hydrogen leak. After that, the team checked and worked hard to find a solution.
Since it serves as one of the propellants in the large core of the rocket, liquid hydrogen is a crucial prerequisite for takeoff. Even after the team made several attempts to troubleshoot the issue, the Artemis I system leak precluded the vessel from taking off.
On the day of the launch, a much larger leak was discovered compared to a smaller one that was discovered earlier on Saturday. The initial diagnosis suggested that overpressurization may have caused damage to the soft seal of the liquid hydrogen connection. However, to make sure that everything is taken into account, the team stated that they need to conduct additional assessments.
Several other problems impeding the team
Before the launch was called, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin had to make sure everything was in order. Consequently, it was allowed to repeatedly postpone takeoff as a result of various problems that came up. The Artemis team faced numerous issues in addition to the hydrogen leak.
The delay was related to problems with the rocket’s cooling system, continuous leaks, and other minor problems. Due to these issues, Artemis I had twice been suspended. In addition, the team had to “close the valve used to fill and drain it, then increase pressure on a ground transfer line using helium to try to reseal it,” according to NASA, after discovering a larger leak on Saturday.
The leak persevered despite efforts to stop it, forcing the Artemis team to cancel the launch schedule. Weather officer Melody Lovin also reported a 60% chance of good weather.
NASA’s aim for Artemis I
Since a successful Artemis mission would open the way for more ambitious manned missions to Mars and the moon, NASA has put a lot of effort into this mission.
Nelson stated, “As we embark on the first Artemis test flight, we recall this agency’s storied past, but our eyes are focused not on the immediate future but out there.”
“It’s a future where NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space, and we’ll develop the science and technology to send the first humans to Mars.”
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