With the First Attempt Called Off, NASA Plans for September Launch of the Artemis I Lunar Mission

Source: NASA

A new date has been fixed for the much-awaited lift off of the uncrewed Space Launch System (SLS) spacecraft on the 3rd of September, after setbacks postponed the initial attempt on August 29.

The world awaited the launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) spacecraft to kickstart NASA’s Artemis I Lunar Mission on August 29, 2022. In this virgin flight, the SLS will assist in sending off an uncrewed Orion capsule to catapult around the moon and back.

But two hours after the scheduled 8:33 a.m. Eastern liftoff time, NASA scrapped the launch, citing issues with one of four main powerful RS-25 engines, which activate the SLS’s core stage.

The Space Launch System (Source: NASA)

As the countdown began, Engine 3 was detected, by the team members, to not have been chilled down to the expected temperature — at around negative 420 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 250 degrees Celsius) — before take off. Other accompanying issues such as a hydrogen leak from a valve and unfavorable weather conditions also contributed to the delayed, and eventually, failed attempt at launch.

The liftoff was delayed for two hours as the Artemis I team tried to find a solution, before canceling the launch for the day. In the most recent update, NASA targets September 3 at 2:17 p.m. EDT to launch the SLS rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Orion spacecraft (Source: NASA)

This new date comes after the Artemis I team had modified procedures to ensure successful launch, including the execution of a chill-down test of the engines approximately 30 to 45 minutes earlier in the countdown. Additionally, the Launch Pad 39B’s platform will be arranged to allow engineers and technicians access to the purge can on the tail service mast umbilical, in order to perform the necessary tweaks and assessments. Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 have also given a thumbs on the weather conditions for September 3, during the launch window.

The route of Artemis I mission (Source: NASA)

The mission for Artemis I revolves around the Orion system’s performance in spaceflight environment and to guarantee safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery before a crewed Artemis II takes flight.

Hence, the historic launch of the SLS rocket will mark the beginning of the Artemis Lunar Mission, specifically Artemis I. Artemis I will kickstart the progressively complex series of Artemis missions to establish sustained and sustainable human presence at the moon. In fact, the ultimate goal for the Artemis missions is to employ our moon as a stepping stone for a mission to Mars, and eventually, equip humanity with the knowledge and tools to better sail our solar system in the decades to come.

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