Artemis I Launch Called Off: “We Don’t Launch Until It’s Right,” NASA Administrator Says
The powerful SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will have to wait another day for a milestone maiden voyage to the Moon.
The United States (US) space agency was all set to debut its new Moon rocket and spacecraft in a launch attempt on 29 August, but a technical snag held back the momentous take-off.
The world’s most powerful launch vehicle, made to ferry astronauts to the Moon, will have to wait another day for its maiden voyage across space, for now without a crew.
The launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, halted the Artemis I launch attempt at approximately 8:34 am Eastern Time (6:04 pm India time), a minute after the start of the scheduled two-hour launch window.
“The issue that came up was an engine bleed that couldn't be remedied,” said the voice on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) TV live streaming.
Assuring that the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft “remain in a safe and stable configuration,” a said that an evaluation was underway to learn “why a bleed test to get the RS-25 engines on the bottom of the core stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff was not successful.”
Troubleshooting work is underway on engine number three, the source of the technical glitch.
The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft make up two-thirds of NASA’s deep space exploration systems, with the other one being the exploration ground systems.
“We don’t launch until it’s right,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson after the scrubbed launch attempt.
“It’s just illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work. And you don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go,” the former US Senator added.
He recalled that the launch attempt for the 24th flight of the Space Shuttle was scrubbed four times on the launch pad and “the fifth try was a flawless mission.”
Indeed, one of the attempts was scrubbed extremely close to launch, at just T-14 seconds.
Bill Nelson was part of the seven-member crew on board the STS-61-C mission that took off on 12 January 1986 from the John F Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the US.
The mission was accomplished just 10 days before Space Shuttle Challenger took off and broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard.
As for Artemis I, engineers are currently said to be gathering additional data. The next available launch opportunity is 2 September.
However, it’s unclear at this point whether NASA will pursue this launch date option as troubleshooting work continues. Weather is a major factor for launch too.
Artemis is a space programme leading the return of humans to the Moon, this time around for “long-term exploration and utilisation” and as a stepping stone for the next giant leap, Mars.
Artemis I is the first integrated flight test of the SLS rocket, Orion spacecraft, and exploration ground systems — the very systems that will ferry future astronauts on their way to the Moon.
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