Monday, January 30, 2023

NASA Moon mission slips to possible Aug launch date

Over the last month or so, NASA has battled sudden, unexpected technical issues surrounding the Artemis I moon mission, a trailblazing endeavor to bring humanity back to the lunar surface. And on Thursday, the agency announced that Artemis I’s launch will probably be pushed to August, well after the previous projection of May. That’s because important prelaunch testing, NASA says, can likely resume only sometime in the middle of June.
Here’s a timeline of the roller-coaster ride leading up to the mission’s most recent, rather sizable delay.
Since April 1, NASA has been trying to get through a crucial testing sequence called the “wet dress rehearsal.”
This is pretty much the final challenge before launch and its name comes from the fact that it’s focused on steps like loading the Space Launch System rocket with cryogenic fuel. The wet dress rehearsal for Artemis I has proved to be anything but straightforward.
First, Mother Nature herself delayed the process when four lightning strikes hit within the perimeter of Artemis I’s launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The agency decided to give the rehearsal another go on April 3 but was soon dealing with safety concerns regarding the SLS rocket’s mobile launcher. Basically, the team had trouble pressurizing the launcher well enough to keep harmful gases from entering. At the time, the agency announced it would complete the wet dress rehearsal on April 4, which brought yet another setback.
This time, the issue was with a vent valve, or a panel on the mobile launcher that’s meant to relieve pressure from the rocket’s core stage. The team was able to isolate the cause of concern.
It’s a sentiment that echoes the purpose of Artemis I in the first place: to remind the world that Earth’s glowing companion is filled with wonder, but also ensure we get things right every step of the way.
Future Artemis missions will send astronauts to regions on the lunar surface that are untouched by humans, and simultaneously pave the way for a modern space program by landing the first woman and first person of color on the moon. (CNet)

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