Nasa engineers are swarming over the space agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, checking systems in hopes of being ready for a launch window that opens 12 November for the long awaited Artemis I mission test flight.
After weeks on launch complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Nasa rolled the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft back into the Vehicle Assembly Constructing, a rocket hangar, on 26 September to guard the launch system from Hurricane Ian.
By 30 September, Nasa teams had found no damage to the SLS or Orion as a result of the storm, and now are going through all of the systems checks mandatory to organize the rocket to roll back out to the launch pad for an additional launch attempt — the third launch attempt following scrubbed launches on 29 August and three September.
The preparatory work includes checking thermal protection materials on the rocket and spacecraft, recharging batteries on the rocket and spacecraft, including on small, experimental satellites to be released in the course of the subsequent mission, and replenishing biological experiment samples, in line with Nasa.
When it launches, Artemis I might be the primary orbital test flight of the SLS rocket, and can see the Orion spacecraft propelled on a path to, around, and back from the Moon, a greater than a month-long uncrewed shakedown flight of each rocket and spacecraft ahead of the primary crewed mission in 2024. That mission, Artemis II, will see a crew of 4 astronauts fly an analogous lunar flyby mission.
If all goes well, Artemis III, scheduled for 2025, will see two astronauts land on the Moon for the primary time for the reason that Nineteen Seventies.
While Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on 28 September as a Category 4 storm with 155 mile-per-hour winds, it had weakened to a tropical storm by the point it reached Kennedy Space Center, and little damage was done to the realm, in line with Nasa. Nasa’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station was capable of launch from the middle on Wednesday with none problems.
International Space station flies over Hurricane Ian
However the storm was just the newest in an extended line of delays in getting Artemis I spaceborne, including repeated fueling tests and canceled launches.
The 29 August launch attempt was scrubbed as a result of an engine cooling problem, while the three September launch was scrubbed as a result of a fuel leak.
Nasa officials have been patient nevertheless, with Administrator Bill Nelson saying the rocket might be ready “when are ready.”
Nasa has yet to set an actual dat for the following launch attempt, but when the November launch window opening on 12 November through is a bust, the space agency has checked out launch windows well into 2023.