NASA’s Artemis lunar mission booster will launch to launch tonight
NASA is preparing for the next attempt to launch the Artemis moon mission. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Friday, the agency will roll out Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Table 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The rollout is a pivotal moment for the stalled Artemis mission, which currently has a goal of launching on November 14.
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The mission was originally scheduled to be carried out by the end of August, but the launch was canceled due to technical delays. The second attempt was also rejected due to technical problems. Then in September, NASA had to return the SLS to the hangar as Hurricane Ian approached the west side of the Florida peninsula, disrupting the third launch attempt.
The Artemis Program is a multi-year mission that would culminate with putting the first woman and person of color on the moon. It all started with the Artemis I mission, which will take NASA’s new rocket and spacecraft, unmanned, on a journey around the moon. The purpose of the Artemis I mission is to ensure that the deep space exploration systems – the SLS and the Orion spacecraft – are ready to send humans to the moon and beyond.
The November 14 takeoff is expected to take place in 69 minutes, opening at 12:07 a.m. EST. A launch on November 14 will result in a mission time of about 25 and a half days with a crash in the Pacific on Friday, December 9.
Over the next week, NASA will monitor an area of low pressure in the atmosphere that could develop into a storm large enough to impact the launch.
If NASA needs to abort the launch, the next takeoff opportunity will come on November 16 at 1:04 a.m. and November 19 at 1:45 a.m. The company wants to launch during the day so that it can get a better picture of the event. However, it is also running against some deadline.
Jim Free, NASA Deputy CEO, explained to reporters on Thursday. Their guaranteed functionality is based on a set of assumptions that must be tested again after a certain period of time. SLS boosters fall into that category.
One of the SLS boosters will have to be reanalyzed after December 9, according to Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program. Another will have to be re-inspected after December 14.