Monday, January 30, 2023

NASA Artemis I Moon Mission Slips to Possible August Launch Date

Over the past month or so, NASA has battled sudden, sudden technical points surrounding the Artemis I moon mission, a trailblazing endeavor to carry humanity again to the lunar floor. And on Thursday, the company introduced that Artemis I’s launch will most likely be pushed to August, effectively after the previous projection of May. That is as a result of necessary prelaunch testing, NASA says, can probably resume solely someday in the midst of June.

Here is a timeline of the roller-coaster journey main up to the mission’s most up-to-date, relatively sizable delay.

Since April 1, NASA has been attempting to get via an important testing sequence referred to as the “moist gown rehearsal.” That is just about the ultimate problem earlier than launch and its identify comes from the truth that it is centered on steps like loading the Area Launch System rocket with cryogenic gasoline. The moist gown rehearsal for Artemis I has proved to be something however easy. 

First, Mom Nature herself delayed the method when four lightning strikes hit inside the perimeter of Artemis I’s launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle. The company determined to give the rehearsal one other go on April 3 however was quickly dealing with safety concerns concerning the SLS rocket’s cell launcher. Principally, the crew had bother pressurizing the launcher effectively sufficient to hold dangerous gases from getting into. On the time, the company introduced it could full the moist gown rehearsal on April 4, which introduced yet another setback

This time, the difficulty was with a vent valve, or a panel on the cell launcher that is meant to relieve strain from the rocket’s core stage. The crew was in a position to isolate the reason for concern.

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“After inspection, we found that the manual hand valve was in the closed position and should have been open,” Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s Artemis launch director, said during an early April press conference. Blackwell-Thompson said that one of two primary test objectives had been completed, and three of five secondary objectives, too. One of the leftover secondary objectives was partially done and the other remained totally open.

After that, the agency first expected to resume dress rehearsal operations somewhere between April 8 and April 10, but it later changed the date to April 12. Things had been in a bit of limbo for a while after, but eventually, on April 25, as a result of all the untimely obstacles, NASA decided to totally move Artemis I off the launchpad and back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for a closer examination. 

Back to the drawing board. 

Returning to the present, on May 5, the agency officially announced that testing likely wouldn’t continue until sometime in mid-June. Despite these blips, however, Blackwell-Thompson emphasized that at the end of the day, “this is a test and the purpose of the test is to fully understand our systems.”

“I think NASA does some of its best work when it’s solving problems, because I think that’s part of what calls us to this,” Blackwell-Thompson said. “It’s that curiosity. It’s that love of exploration. But it’s also the fact that you have these things you’re going to meet head-on and you’re going to go solve.”

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.

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