NASA’s Mega Moon rocket returns to the launch pad

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The massive rocket at the center of NASA’s plans to get men back to the Moon is headed to the launch pad. As of Friday The space agency is preparing for another attempt to launch the Artemis I mission to Earth.

The unmanned test mission is scheduled to take off on November 14, with a 69-minute launch window opening at 12:07 a.m. ET. The launch will be broadcast live NASA website.

The Space Launch System, or SLS, began the hour-long journey from its inner sanctuary at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Pad 39B. late Thursday evening.

The missile was put on the shelf after a few weeks Fuel leakage problems The first two missile attempts were thwarted, then a Hurricane swept FloridaForcing the missile to evacuate the launch pad and go to safety.

Jim Frey, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said the Artemis team is once again monitoring the storm that could head toward Florida, but is confident it will make it to the launch pad.

The unnamed storm could form near Puerto Rico over the weekend and move slowly to the northwest early next week, meteorologist Mark Burger, a rocket meteorologist at the US Air Force base in Cape Canaveral, said.

“The National Hurricane Center has a 30% chance of becoming a designated storm,” Burger said. “However, the models are very consistent in developing some kind of low pressure.”

He said weather officials do not expect it to become a robust system, but that they will monitor potential effects by the middle of next week.

Returning the 322-foot (98 m) SLS missile to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, gave engineers an opportunity to get a closer look at the problems. They are teasing the missile to do maintenance.

in September, NASA has raced against time to get Artemis I off Earth because if it spends too long on the launch pad without taking off, it risks draining the mission’s primary batteries. Done by engineers Recharge or replace the batteries The rocket passed and the Orion spacecraft sat on top of it in 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. The Artemis I mission – expected to be the first of many – will lay the foundation for testing the rocket, spacecraft and all of its subsystems to ensure astronauts are safe enough to fly to the moon and back.

But try to launch this first mission on Earth. The SLS missile, which cost about $4 billion, has encountered problems As it was loaded with supercooled liquid hydrogen, a series of leaks formed. Defective sensor gave more Inaccurate measurements were made when the rocket attempted to “stabilize” its engines, a process that cools the engines so they are not shocked by the temperature of the supercooled fuel.

I worked for NASA To fix both problems. The Artemis team decided to cover up the faulty sensor, ignoring the data it was shooting. Following a second launch attempt by the space agency in September, Performed another ground test While the missile was on the launch pad.

The purpose of the cryogenic demonstration is to test the seals and use the updated “internal and soft” loading procedures for the ultra-cooled propellant, which the rocket will test on launch day. Although the test did not go quite as planned, NASA said it met all of its goals.

NASA officials reiterated that these delays were due to technical problems There is no need to point out a big problem with the missile.

Before the SLS, NASA’s Space Shuttle The program, which has flown for 30 years, has often endured overlooked launches. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets also have a history of mechanical or technical problems.

“I want to think this is a tough job,” Fry said. “We’ve seen challenges getting all of our systems to work together, which is why we’re doing a flight test. He pursues things that cannot be modeled. And we take a lot of risks and learn in this mission before we get the crew out there.

The Artemis I mission is expected to pave the way for other missions to the moon. After liftoff, the Orion capsule, designed to carry astronauts, sits on top of the rocket and separates it when it reaches space. It will fly empty except for one or two for this mission mannequins. Orion’s capsule will spend a few days maneuvering the moon before entering its orbit, only to return home a few days later.

In all, the mission is expected to last 25 days, with the Orion capsule launching into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on December 9.

The purpose of the mission is to collect data and test hardware, navigation, and other systems to ensure that both the SLS rocket and Orion capsule are ready to host astronauts. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person on the moon this decade.

The Artemis II mission, planned for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the Moon, but with a crew on board. In 2025, Artemis III astronauts are expected to land on the Moon for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.

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