11:15 am ET Saturday’s planned launch of Artemis I has been canceled by NASA. A leak in the 8-inch hydrogen inlet to the Space Launch System rocket could not be fixed by the launch crew.
Three different measures were taken by launch officials to try and fix the leak of cryogenic hydrogen from the ground systems on board the rocket, but none of them were successful.
No one knows if NASA will try to launch the Artemis I mission on Monday or Tuesday, or if they’ll have to bring the massive rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs. The latter option is currently being considered more seriously than the former. Later on Saturday, Ars will publish a comprehensive recap.
NASA is ready to try again with the launch of the massive Space Launch System rocket, five days after the first attempt was aborted due to technical difficulties.
On Saturday morning, as the sun rose over the Atlantic Ocean waters that surround the spaceport, the launch team began fueling the rocket. The two-hour launch window for the SLS rocket that will send Artemis I on its lunar orbit opens at 2:17 p.m. ET.
A successful launch would kick off a 42-day mission to put the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit and test vital technologies like the heat shield that will keep the spacecraft intact during its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Artemis II, which would carry humans around the Moon, would follow in a couple of years if the mission is successful. Sometime later this decade, we hope to set foot on the moon.
The rocket’s Saturday launch depends on many things going smoothly. Weather, range, and technical issues are the main causes of aborted rocket launches. On a summer afternoon in Florida, the forecast calls for a 60% chance of sunshine. There is little chance of encountering problems with the launch range, such as a boat straying into prohibited waters.
How Many Different Types Of Spacecraft Are Used In The Artemis Program?
Orion is a space capsule built to keep a crew of four alive and healthy in deep space for up to 21 days, and it will serve as the Artemis crews’ home during their missions.
For lunar orbit insertion, each Orion capsule will have a European Service Module (ESM) by the European Space Agency to provide solar panels, life support systems, fuel tanks, and the main engine.
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is the rocket that will carry Orion to the moon. It is 322 feet tall and has a core stage that burns a mixture of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Four RS-25 rocket engines,
designed for the space shuttle program, power the first stage of the jumbo rocket. A repurposed engine that has already been used on at least three space shuttle missions will power the unmanned Artemis I mission to the moon and back.
Two enormous solid-fuel boosters, one on either side of the core stage, will be used in each SLS rocket. 8.8 million pounds of thrust will be generated at liftoff, which is 15% more than the Saturn V used in the Apollo program.
Once the rocket is in orbit, the upper stage will separate from the main core and fire its own engines to propel Orion (along with the European Service Module) toward the moon.
While in lunar orbit, the Orion crew will be transferred to a customized version of SpaceX’s Starship, which will make the actual lunar landing during NASA’s Artemis III mission. To get to and from the moon, the astronauts will board SpaceX’s Starship, which is currently undergoing testing.
What Are The First Missions Of The Artemis Program?
As early as November 16th, with alternate launch dates of November 19th and 25th, the unmanned test launch known as Artemis I will take off.
The Artemis I flight test will be the first unmanned flight of the entire vehicle “stack,” which includes Orion, the European Service Module, and the SLS rocket.
Orion is the only part with any prior spaceflight experience, having been launched on a different rocket in December 2014 to test its heat shields. Based on launch timing, Orion will spend four to six weeks in space, making a trip around the Moon and back to Earth.
At a press conference on August 3, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “We’re learning through the challenges,
the accomplishments: Artemis I shows that we can do big things, things that unite people, things that benefit humanity, things like Apollo that inspire the world.” “We have officially entered the Artemis era.”
The program’s first manned flight, Artemis II, is set for no earlier than May 2024. The Orion spacecraft, carrying a crew of four, will orbit the moon and return to Earth in just over ten days. The mission is reminiscent of the Apollo 8 mission in December of 1968.
Where Will Artemis III Land On The Moon?
Instead of landing near the moon’s equator as the Apollo missions did, Artemis III will touch down close to the south pole.
NASA has revealed 13 potential landing sites for the spacecraft. Each of these squares has a perimeter of about 9.3 miles and features at least 10 viable landing spots.
These locations are being considered by NASA because of the wide variety of geological features that have yet to be mapped.
Each landing spot is perfectly level for easy takeoff and landing, and it receives sunlight for 6.5 days straight, giving the astronauts nearly a full week to explore the surface.
Landing locations for Artemis III will be time-dependent, as the regions are in shadow during different parts of the day.
In permanently shaded regions close to the intended landing sites, water’s chemical fingerprints can be found in the regolith, the lunar rock, and dust.
If water ice could be extracted from the lunar regolith, a permanent human presence on the moon, like an Antarctica-style research station, would be much simpler to set up.
How Much Does The Artemis Program Cost?
NASA’s Office of the Inspector General estimates that the total cost of Artemis-related programs from FY2012 through FY2025 will be $93.0 billion,
with the initial Artemis launches costing $4.1 billion each. Earlier this year, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin deemed the Artemis budget to be “unsustainable” due to its significant overruns from original projections.
Congressional support for Artemis funding has remained strong thus far. The Planetary Society, a non-profit organization that advocates for space exploration,
estimates that just under half of NASA’s annual budget goes toward human spaceflight and that the agency currently receives less than half of one percent of federal discretionary spending.
There are currently three Artemis missions in the works, the first of which, Artemis 1, is an unmanned test flight around and beyond the Moon scheduled for launch on 16 November 2022.
In a crewed mission called Artemis 2, humans will travel further than ever before in space, past the Moon.
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