NewsWhy the Artemis 1 Mission was canceled and when...

Why the Artemis 1 Mission was canceled and when it resumes

The launch of Artemis 1 , NASA ‘s new megarocket to the Moon, was canceled this Monday due to a technical problem with one of its main engines, which represents a disappointment for the US space agency, which will now have to wait until the next possible take-off dates.

Fifty years after astronauts last set foot on the Moon on the Apollo 17 mission, Artemis 1 should mark the launch of the US program to return to the Moon, with a view to allowing humanity to eventually reach Mars aboard the same spacecraft. .

When will the launch of Artemis 1 be resumed?

The next possible launch dates are September 2 and 5 . But the problem will have to be evaluated in detail by space agency teams before determining when it will occur.

The launch was originally scheduled for 0833 (1233 GMT) from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But as the sun rose over the huge 98-meter-high orange and white rocket, liftoff became increasingly unlikely.

What problem prevented takeoff?

The tanks of the rocket – the most powerful in the world – were filled during the night with more than three million liters of ultracold liquid hydrogen and oxygen.

However, the supply started an hour late due to the too high risk of lightning.

A leak then caused a pause during the filling of the main segment with hydrogen, before a solution was found and flow resumed.

Around 07:00 local time, a new problem was being investigated. One of the four RS-25 motors, under the main segment of the rocket, could not reach the desired low temperature, a necessary condition to be able to ignite it.

The countdown stopped, and after more than an hour and a half of waiting while trying to fix the problem, NASA’s launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, made the decision to cancel.

Why is the release of Artemis 1 important?

The goal is to test the SLS rocket and the Orion crew capsule on top of it.

Orion will launch uncrewed into orbit around the Moon, to verify that the vehicle is safe for future astronauts , who are expected to send the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface.

“This mission carries with it the dreams and hopes of many people,” said NASA chief Bill Nelson. “Now we are the Artemis generation.”

Two minutes after the SLS launches, the boosters will return to Earth to drop into the Atlantic. Eight minutes later, the main segment will separate, and about an hour and a half later, a last push will send the capsule headed for the Moon, where it will take several days to arrive.

The main objective of Artemis 1 is to test the heat shield of the capsule, which will return to the Earth’s atmosphere at almost 40,000 km/h, and at a temperature half that of the Sun’s surface.

Instead of astronauts, mannequins were placed on board, equipped with sensors that record vibrations and radiation levels.

The capsule will venture up to 64,000 km behind the Moon, the greatest distance ever reached by a spacecraft adapted to accommodate a crew.

Between 100,000 and 200,000 people, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, were expected to witness the liftoff live on Monday.

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