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The Artemis I rocket will have its third launch attempt on Tuesday, September 27, but Tropical Depression Nine could change that.
The 70-minute launch window opens at 11:37 a.m. ET and the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft continue to sit on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Concerns about a weather system forming in the Caribbean kept weather conditions only 20% favorable for launch. The tropical depression’s current track puts the storm on track to affect Cuba and Florida early next week.
Given the uncertainty in the storm’s track, intensity and arrival time, the Artemis team will use the latest data to inform its decision, said Mike Bolger, manager of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program.
“Deep tropical moisture will sweep into the spaceport on Tuesday, with widespread cloud cover and scattered showers possible during the launch window,” according to a A forecast issued by the US Space Force on Friday.
Launch constraints required that the Artemis I mission not fly through any rain. Launch barriers are designed to protect against natural and rocket-propelled lightning strikes, which could damage the rocket and endanger public safety, according to the Space Force. .
According to Space Force, rocket-powered lightning is created when a large rocket flies through a strong enough atmospheric electric field, so a cloud that isn’t generating natural lightning still has rocket-powered lightning. can cause
The Artemis team is closely monitoring the weather and will make a decision on Saturday. If the rocket stack needs to be brought back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, the process can take several days.
Meanwhile, the Artemis team is encouraged after a “really successful tanking test,” and “the rocket is looking good for upcoming launch efforts,” said John Blevins, SLS chief engineer at NASA Marshall in Huntsville, Alabama. at the Space Flight Center.
A critical fuel test for the Mega Moon rocket met all of its objectives on Wednesday, despite two separate hydrogen leaks.
The purpose of the cryogenic demonstration was to test the modified seals and use the updated, “kinder and gentler” loading method of the supercooled propellant that the rocket would experience on launch day.
NASA engineers detected a liquid hydrogen leak during the test that had the “same signature” as the leak that prevented the launch attempt on September 3. However, their troubleshooting efforts allowed the team to manage the leak.
The team was able to completely fill the core stage with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. They also completed an engine bleed test, which conditions the four engines and brings their temperature down before launch. (The mission team cleared the first Artemis I launch attempt on August 29 of a problem with a faulty sensor during bleeding.)
During the pre-pressure test a hydrogen leak was detected on the 4-inch quick disconnect line for engine bleed that exceeded the 4% limit. This quick disconnect line carries the liquid hydrogen out after passing through the engines and cooling. But the leakage rate itself decreased.
Additionally, the Artemis team has received approval from the Space Force for a September 27 launch attempt and an October 2 backup date.
The Space Force oversees all rocket launches from the East Coast of the United States, including NASA’s Florida launch site, and the area is known as the Eastern Range. Range personnel are tasked with ensuring that any attempted launch poses no risk to people or property.
After receiving detailed data from NASA, the space force issued waivers for launch dates.
The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will begin a phase of NASA’s space exploration into the first unexplored regions of the Moon – on the Artemis II and Artemis III missions, scheduled for 2024 and 2025, respectively – and eventually various astronauts. intends to land the crew. Provision of crewed missions to Mars.