The launch attempt of Artemis I on Saturday, September 1, was called off due to a leak in the hardware of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the most powerful rocket in the world. As a result, the first leg of NASA’s upcoming Moon mission has been postponed.
This is the second time Artemis I has been scrubbed due to technical issues with the rocket. NASA said in a mission update that teams attempted to fix an issue related to a leak in the hardware transferring fuel into the SLS rocket, but were unsuccessful.
The #Artemis I mission to the Moon has been postponed. Teams attempted to fix an issue related to a leak in the hardware transferring fuel into the rocket, but were unsuccessful. Join NASA leaders later today for a news conference. Check for updates: https://t.co/6LVDrA1toy pic.twitter.com/LgXnjCy40u
— NASA (@NASA) September 3, 2022
Artemis I was slated to launch no earlier than 11:47 pm IST on Saturday, September 1. A few hours before the launch, ground control teams observed that a leak developed in the supply side of the eight-inch quick disconnect while attempting to transfer fuel to the SLS rocket. The quick disconnect connects the ground system to the rocket. It is also the region where liquid hydrogen is fed into the rocket. NASA teams attempted to fix the fuel leak, but were unsuccessful.
At approximately 11:17 am EDT (8:47 pm IST) on Saturday, the launch director waived off the second launch attempt of Artemis I. While loading the propellant into the core stage of the SLS rocket, teams encountered a liquid hydrogen leak.
The teams made several troubleshooting efforts to address the area of the leak by reseating a seal in the quick disconnect, but to no avail.
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted that 11 shuttles had to be rolled back to fix something with the rocket. Of these, two had to be rolled back twice. He also said that when Artemis I flies, nobody will remember the delays. However, had something gone wrong following the launch, we would have remembered it for a long time, he said. “So: go Artemis!” he wrote.
A bit of perspective: 11 Shuttles had to be rolled back to fix something. 2 of them had to be rolled back twice. When #Artemis_1 flies, nobody will remember the delays – had something gone wrong today, however, we’d have remembered it for a long time. So: go Artemis! https://t.co/zlZTcxubAD
— Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) September 3, 2022
Why Was First Launch Attempt Of Artemis I Scrubbed?
The first launch attempt of Artemis I on August 29 was scrubbed due to an issue with one of the RS-25 engines of the SLS rocket. A few hours before the first launch attempt, NASA engineers were troubleshooting a conditioning issue with engine number 3 of the rocket. Launch controllers increased the pressure on the core stage tanks to condition the engines, and to cause some of the cryogenic propellant to bleed to the engines. This is an important step because it ensures the engines can reach the proper temperature range to get started.
However, the teams observed an issue with the bleeding of engine number 3. As a result, the mission was scrubbed.
The United States space agency is yet to announce the next launch date for Artemis I.
What Is Artemis I All About?
The Artemis project, the first human moon mission since 1972, aims to carry the first woman, and the first person of colour to the Moon, by 2024.
The first spaceflight that landed humans on the lunar surface was Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, and the last one was Apollo 17 on December 11, 1972.
Artemis, the Goddess of the Moon in Greek Mythology, after whom NASA’s upcoming Moon mission has been named, was the twin sister of Apollo.
The objective behind the Artemis Mission is that it will enable NASA to demonstrate new technologies on the Moon, which will pave the way for future exploration of Mars.
The Artemis Mission has three stages, Artemis I, II, and III.
NASA’s massive SLS rocket and Orion Space Capsule will carry astronauts into lunar orbit. From there, SpaceX’s Human Lander System (HLS) will ferry the astronauts to the Moon’s icy south pole.
Artemis I will be an uncrewed test flight. Orion will be carried atop the super-heavy lift rocket, SLS, without any human in the capsule. If Artemis I is successful, it will be certified that the SLS and Orion can be used for the other two Artemis missions, which will be crewed flights.
The duration of Artemis I will be 42 days, three hours, and 20 minutes. Orion will launch atop SLS, the most powerful rocket in the world, and will fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown. Over the course of the mission, Orion will travel a distance of approximately 4,50,000 kilometres from Earth and 64,000 kilometres beyond the far side of the Moon. The spacecraft will stay in space longer than any human spacecraft has without docking to a space station. Orion will also return home faster and hotter than ever before.
Artemis I will demonstrate the performance of both Orion and SLS and test NASA’s capabilities to orbit the Moon and return to Earth. The first uncrewed test flight of the Artemis Program will pave the way for future missions to the lunar vicinity, including landing the first woman and the first person of colour on the surface of the Moon.
The objective of Artemis I is to set the stage for human exploration into deep space, where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar exploration missions and to other destinations farther from Earth, including the Red Planet.