If everything goes according to plans, NASA could launch its heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket on its first orbit around the moon the end of August. 29.
This is a big “if,” however: Workers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are still working on fixing as well as testing rocket’s systems including the components that weren’t thoroughly tested at the launch practice last month..
Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle director of operations for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program, noted that it’s going to be a challenge to complete the final test without observing the launch restrictions that are in place.
“We are facing some challenges in the moment as we finish this test, as well as all of the final work to close out especially on the core stage intertank in order to reach an area where we’re prepared to launch,” Lanham told reporters today.
The announcement today came on a day that is ominous that marks the anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing.
The program includes a 322-foot-tall 3.5 million-pound rocket be rolled out of Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building on Aug. 18. It would then create the conditions for future launches on the 29th of August, Sept. 2 and. 29and Sept. 2 and September. 5. Launch would mark the beginning the NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed flight test intended to open the way for astronauts who will land on the lunar surface the year 2025.
Artemis 1 requires to use the SLS rocket to launch the NASA’s Orion deep-space spacecraft into a wildly looping space around moon and then return it to Earth to make an Pacific Ocean splashdown. The missions related to the three launch options that were announced today will last from between 39 and 42 days.
Three mannequins equipped with instruments known as commander Moonikin campos, Helga and Zohar will give the mission team information about the conditions astronauts actually experience during an orbital trip around the moon in Artemis 2 in the 2024 timeframe, as well as during the Artemis 3 moon landing mission.
NASA will also be testing the use of a digital voice assistant that is inspired by the Amazon Alexa AI software. Amazon is working together with Lockheed Martin and Cisco on Project Callisto, which could offer astronauts information on in-flight on the future Artemis missions. Lanham confirmed that the hardware used required for Project Callisto digital assistant is already installed inside the Orion capsule.
The most crucial test for Orion would occur at the conclusion of the journey.
“When Orion returns from the moon, we’ll travel approximately 24,500 miles an hour, which is Mach 32. And we’ll be experiencing temperatures as cool as the sun’s outside of the heat shield” stated Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager at NASA Headquarters.
Sarafin said that the heat shield has passed ground tests, but is expected to be subjected to the acid test under atmospheric re-entry during Artemis 1. “We might see something we hadn’t anticipated,” he said.
Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate The launch team is working on the list of tasks made following last month’s training at the pad for launchand includes replacing seals on the fuel line that caused issues when the countdown began.
Free stressed that the dates that were announced this morning were “not an agency-issued commitment,” but merely a timetable that the launch team can set. “We’re on the scene today just to announce “We believe we’re on the right way to make an attempt at those dates”” Free said.
When the SLS rocket has been launched the mission planners will need to keep an eye on the timer for the onboard batteries which power the flight end-of-flight system. If launch doesn’t happen on Sept. 5, or 6 NASA will have to wait until the next window for launch which will be open from September. 19 until October. 4. Or possibly the following window that opens on October. 17.