Artemis 1 moon mission launch: After brief halt, liquid hydrogen replenish start

In the latest development, Nasa’s associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development, Jim Free, has confirmed that the team is back in replenish for liquid hydrogen on Space Launch System’s core stage after the red crew travelled out to the launch pad to fix a leak.

Nasa informed in its blog post, “The leak is not reoccurring. Engineers are back into liquid hydrogen fast fill operations on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage.” It also stated that the engineers are tracking the loss of signal from a radar site needed for launch and are fixing it while launch operations continues.

Red crew was called

Engineers were forced to pause flowing liquid hydrogen into the core stage because of a valve leak in the mobile launcher ground structure, as a special team- Red crew- was sent out to address the problem. The Red crew technicians red crew are specially trained to conduct operations at the launch pad during cryogenic loading operations. They technicians entered the base of the mobile launcher and tightened several bolts to troubleshoot a valve used to replenish the core stage with liquid hydrogen which showed a leak with readings above limits. And now they have left the launch pad and is are outside the designated danger area surrounding the pad, Nasa informed.

NASA was readying to launch its new mega Moon rocket early Wednesday from Florida — but technical issues threatened to play spoilsport a third time.

Engineers were forced to pause flowing liquid hydrogen into the core stage because of a valve leak in the mobile launcher ground structure, as a team was sent out to address the problem.

If the issue is resolved, weather remains 90 percent favourable for lift-off during a two hour window that begins at 1:04 am local time (0604 GMT).

The Artemis 1 moon mission

The Artemis 1 mission, a test flight without astronauts, represents the first step in the US space agency’s plan to build a lasting presence on the Moon and take lessons from there to prepare for a future voyage to Mars in the 2030s.

Named after the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, the new space program comes 50 years after humans last set foot on lunar soil.

It will be the first launch of the 32-story tall Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built.

For now, countdown remains paused at the storied Kennedy Space Center, where the orange and white behemoth awaits its maiden flight.

The takeoff is scheduled less than a week after the passage of Hurricane Nicole, which the rocket endured outside on its launch pad.

The hurricane damaged a thin strip of caulk-like material which encircles the Orion crew capsule atop the rocket, making it more aerodynamic. However, NASA said Monday that this posed a minimal risk.

Two backup dates are possible, if needed, on November 19 and 25.

‘Extremely excited’

About 100,000 people are expected on the coast to watch the launch, with the rocket promising to light up the night sky.

Andrew Trombley, a space enthusiast from St. Louis, Missouri, is anxiously hoping for a successful liftoff after several futile trips for the launch.

“I’ve been down here a couple of times already to watch this thing go up and have it canceled so, this is like, whatever, the third trip down here for this, so I’m excited to see it go,” said the network engineer.

“I was too little for the Apollo missions, so … I wanted to be here in person.”

The launch has attracted hordes of tourists, as well as locals.

Kerry Warner, 59, a grandmother and semi-retired educator who lives in Florida, is fired up for liftoff, which she said was “part of America and what America is all about.”

“Third time’s the charm, we’re hoping for it.”

Far side of Moon

At the end of September, the rocket had to be wheeled back to its assembly building to be sheltered from another hurricane, Ian.

Before these weather setbacks, two launch attempts were canceled for technical reasons.

The first failure was related to a faulty sensor, and the second to a fuel leak when filling the rocket’s tanks. It runs on ultra-cold, ultra-volatile liquid oxygen and hydrogen.

NASA has since replaced a seal and modified its procedures to avoid thermal shock as much as possible.

The Orion capsule will be lifted by two boosters and four powerful engines under the core stage, which will detach after only a few minutes.

After a final push from the upper stage, the capsule will be well on its way, taking several days to reach its destination.

Rather than landing on the Moon, it will assume a distant orbit, venturing 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the far side — further than any other habitable spacecraft so far.

Finally, Orion will embark on the return leg of its journey. When passing through the atmosphere, the capsule’s heat shield will need to withstand a temperature half as hot as the Sun’s surface.

If take-off happens Wednesday, the mission will last 25 and a half days, with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.

NASA is banking on a successful mission after developing the SLS rocket for more than a decade. It will have invested more than $90 billion in its new lunar program by the end of 2025, according to a public audit.

Artemis 2 will involve a flyby of the Moon with astronauts in 2024.

Boots on the ground should happen during Artemis 3, no sooner than 2025, with the crew set to include the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

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