After months of tests, troubleshooting and repairs, NASA ran into problems during fueling of the Space Launch System moon rocket early Monday,the planned launch of its Artemis 1 test flight — to send an unpiloted Orion crew capsule on a 42-day mission beyond the moon and back.
Launch originally was planned for 8:33 a.m. EDT, the opening of a two-hour window. The next opportunity for launch will be Friday, Sept. 2, at 12:48 p.m. EDT, if the issues are resolved by then.
Rain showers with lightning moved within five nautical miles of launch pad 39B just after midnight, forcing Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson to delay the start of propellant loading by 55 minutes. The six-hour procedure finally got underway at 1:13 a.m. EDT.
Then, aas the fueling was taking place. Another issue as the countdown ticked into its final hours was troubleshooting to find the cause of a momentary communications glitch in one of the channels relaying commands and telemetry to and from the Orion spacecraft. Yet another potential problem was a possible indicator of a leak of some sort, a crack in thermal insulation or some other issue spotted on the exterior of the rocket’s core stage.
In 2024, NASA intends to deploy four people on a looping around-the-moon voyage as a follow-up to the Artemis 1 mission, laying the groundwork for the first human landing in over 50 years, somewhere around the south pole. In the years 2025–2026, the first man and the second man could set foot on the moon.
Future astronauts may be able to “mine” that ice if it is extant and accessible, turning it into oxygen, water, and even rocket fuel to significantly lower the cost of deep space travel. It is thought that there may be ice deposits in lunar craters close to the pole.
In general, Artemis astronauts will conduct in-depth exploration and study to find out more about the moon’s creation and development as well as to test the equipment and processes needed to transport people to Mars.
But before launching Artemis 1, NASA must demonstrate that the rocket and capsule will function as intended.
The Artemis 1 mission’s objective is to test the Orion spacecraft’s solar power, propulsion, navigation, and life support systems before its October 10 return to Earth and a 25,000 mph dive back into the atmosphere that would expose its protective heat shield to a horrifying 5,000 degrees.
The primary objective of the Artemis 1 mission is to test the heat shield and ensure that it can defend people returning from deep space.