After conferring, those responsible for the NASA announced on August 30 that they have agreed toa date for the next launch attempt of the Artemis 1 mission. So the rocket Space Launch System (SLS), with capsule Orion on board, should take off the September 3 next.
If all goes well, the rocket will depart Pad 39B launch pad which is located at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 18:17 GMTwhich is the opening time of the two-hour firing window.
Remember that this mission represents the first mission of the program Artemis. Its goal is to launch the Orion capsule for a 42-day trip around the Moon.
New measures for the launch on Saturday
The Artemis 1 mission was supposed to take off last Monday, August 29, but 40 minutes before the engines were to be fired, officials decided to cancel. It was later revealed that one of the RS-25 engines could not be cooled to -250°Cwhich is however a necessary condition to avoid a shock during ignition.
According to John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Artemis 1 teams were unable to fix the problem in time on the first attempt. But now they think the culprit was a faulty engine temperature sensor number 3. Honeycutt explained at a press conference that they understand hydrogen physics, and the behavior of the sensor did not match the physics of the situation. Readings from the other sensors indicated that engine #3 was indeed receiving adequate levels of hydrogen during cool down prior to ignition.
Replacing the failed sensor would require bringing the rocket back to the Kennedy Space Center hangar. For Honeycutt and his colleagues, it won’t be necessary. However, they will make adjustments regarding the countdown. For example, they will start the engine cooling process 30 to 45 minutes earlier. Over the next few days, data analysis will also continue to ensure that the decision taken is indeed the right one.
An unfinished dress rehearsal
Problems such as engine cooling are usually detected during dress rehearsal. The Artemis 1 teams did well on several attempts to repeat the countdown, but they ran into several technical issues and ended up skip some steps. The rehearsals done so far have never arrived at the time of engine cooling, and the problem that occurred on Monday had not yet been detected.
In any case, if all goes well, we will be able to witness the very first take-off of the SLS rocket this Saturday. Provided of course that the weather permits.