NASA’s Artemis 1 mega SLS moon rocket

(IANS)

US space agency NASA will once again attempt to launch its uncrewed moon mission Artemis I on Saturday, September 3, after the first take-off attempt was called off on Monday due to technical failure. The renewed attempt will be made during a two-hour launch window that opens at 2:17 pm ET (11:47 pm Indian time).

While the launch has been scheduled, doubts over its success continue to linger due to unfavourable weather conditions. According to reports, the meteorologists at NASA have raised concerns over scattered rainfall in parts of Florida where the Kennedy Space Center launch site is based.

Their estimates indicate that the weather will be just 60% favourable at the start of the launch window, but it could subsequently improve to 80% towards the end of it. Nevertheless, NASA will take the final call for the launch after inspecting the actual weather conditions during this two-hour time frame.

“The mission management team will meet early in the morning (by noon as per Indian time) on Saturday, September 3 and give the final determination for a ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ decision to begin tanking operations,” stated an update from NASA.

If bad weather does end up cancelling the launch yet again, NASA could retry next Monday. However, the weather on this backup date is also expected to be just 70% favourable.

Why was the first launch attempt called off?

Essentially, an engine issue was cited as the reason behind the calling off of Artemis I’s first launch attempt.

A NASA statement released on Tuesday read: “During that launch attempt, teams were not able to chill down the four RS-25 engines to approximately minus 420 degrees Fahrenheit, with engine 3 showing higher temperatures than the other engines.”

Their teams also saw a hydrogen leak on a component of the tail service mast umbilical quick disconnect, called the purge can, and managed the leak by manually adjusting propellant flow rates.

“In the coming days, teams will modify and practice propellant loading procedures to follow a procedure similar to what was successfully performed during the Green Run at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi,” the space agency had said.

What happens after Artemis I’s successful launch?

Once it’s successfully launched, the Artemis I rocket will reach the outer layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, about 161 km from the surface, in just 8 minutes. Close to 90,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and oxygen will be utilised per minute during this stage, after which the core stage of the rocket will fall off into the Pacific Ocean.

Thereafter, the uncrewed rocket will undertake a 38-day flight to 64,000 km beyond the Moon, during which the three on-board mannequins will help scientists study the effects of radiation in space. The rocket will then return to the Earth and end with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on October 11.

If successful, this test run will pave the way for a crewed fly-by around the Moon during Artemis II in 2024. And once that is done, the long-anticipated human landing on the Moon during Artemis III will take place in 2025.

(With inputs from IANS)

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