The flight will also be the first launch of the agency’s massive Space Launch System rocket, a milestone in Artemis’ campaign to return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
Due to the complexity of the vehicles and the fact that NASA had never launched an SLS rocket before, NASA stressed that launch dates at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were tentative and could change.
It took NASA several attempts earlier this year to perform a refueling test and a countdown simulation, known as a rehearsal, for the SLS rocket. When they loaded the rocket with 700,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, engineers discovered a series of problems, Including hydrogen leak That prevented NASA from completing the countdown to the test. As a result, NASA had to roll the rocket from the launch pad to its assembly building for additional repairs and testing.
However, officials said they managed to complete it Enough testing to move forward trying to launch. On Wednesday, space agency officials said all was going well.
The mission, known as Artemis I, will send the crew’s Orion capsule into lunar orbit for about six weeks, allowing the agency to test a series of systems before putting astronauts on board.
One of the main goals of the flight is to test Orion’s heat shield, said Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager. The heat shield is intended to protect Orion and its future crew from the extreme temperatures it will encounter when it enters Earth’s atmosphere at 24,500 miles per hour, or 32 Mach. Those temperatures would reach “half the height of the sun,” Sarafin said.
NASA will also look to test the spacecraft’s navigation systems, its ability to use energy drawn from its solar arrays and its flexibility when traveling through areas of high radiation. Three mannequins on board will be fitted with sensors to determine how the astronauts are performing during the flight. Another test, Sarafin said, will be to recover the spacecraft after it plunged into the ocean.
Given that NASA did not attempt to send a spacecraft designed to transport humans to Moon in 50 yearsProblems are foreseeable, money changers said, but “our team is ready to adapt along the way.”
If the Artemis I mission goes as planned, NASA is planning a similar mission, known as Artemis II, with astronauts on board. NASA said a human landing, dubbed Artemis III, could come as early as 2025.
If NASA decides to go ahead with the Artemis I rocket launch on August 29, the SLS rocket will roll from the assembly building to the launch pad on August 18.
“We think we’re on a good track to get there [launch] said Jim Frey, associate administrator for NASA. But he reminded reporters that astronauts often tell their families coming to watch them blast off into space that they should “plan a seven-day vacation to Florida, and you might see a launch there as well.”
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