The long-awaited flight of the Artemis-1 mission, without a crew on board, was supposed to test the SLS rocket (for the Space Launch System) and the Orion capsule at its summit in real conditions, where astronauts will walk in the future.
A possible launch window on September 23 will open at 6:47 a.m. local time (12:47 p.m. Paris time), while on the 27th it will open at 11:37 a.m. local time (5:37 p.m. Paris time), said Jim Free, US Space A senior official of the agency, during a press conference. The dates were chosen to avoid a conflict with NASA’s DART mission, whose spacecraft is due to hit an asteroid on September 26 in an attempt to divert it from its path. Both missions will use an international antenna network called the Deep Space Network.
However, the dates considered by the space agency depend on a special waiver NASA must obtain to avoid recharging the batteries in the rocket’s emergency kill system.
If the agency doesn’t get this waiver, the rocket would have to return to the Assembly building, which would push the schedule back by several weeks. The launch is highly symbolic, as it is supposed to embody the future of NASA, particularly in the face of China’s or SpaceX’s ambitions.
NASA’s scheduled rocket liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida was canceled at last minute on Saturday for the second time in a week, pushing back the actual launch of the US back-to-the-moon project, Artemis.
During the rocket tank filling operation, a fuel leak was detected early in the morning. NASA official Mike Bolger said at a press conference that the agency is working to replace the seals to fix the super-cold liquid hydrogen leak. The orange and white SLS rocket, which has yet to fly, has been in development for more than a decade to become the world’s most powerful.
Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, the Orion capsule on top of the Artemis-1 rocket can be verified as safe to carry astronauts to the moon in the future. For this first mission, Orion will travel 64,000 kilometers behind the Moon, the furthest that any living spacecraft has ever seen.
The main objective was to test the largest heat shield ever built. When it returns to Earth’s atmosphere, it will endure a speed of 40,000 km/h and a temperature half as high as the Sun’s surface.