NASA counts down to Saturday launch for delayed moon rocket

The countdown to the launch of NASA’s Artemis rocket wrapped up smoothly in the last 24 hours on Friday as engineers readied the giant booster for blastoff Saturday on a delayed test flight to send an unmanned Orion crew capsule to a flight around the moon.

If all goes well, engineers will begin pumping 750,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel into the Space Launch System rocket at 6 a.m. EDT on Saturday, setting up a launch attempt at 2:17 p.m., opening a two-hour window.

Forecasters predicted a 60% chance of good weather, improving to 80% “to go” towards the end of the window. Clouds and rain washed over the spacecraft on Friday afternoon, but engineers hoped that nature would be more cooperative on Saturday.

Still water in a pond near pad 39B captures a reflected image of the Space Launch System rocket Friday before afternoon storms build along Florida’s Space Coast. / Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Launch attempt Monday was cleared when engineers could not confirm that all four of the SLS rocket’s RS-25 first-stage engines had been cooled enough by circulating liquid hydrogen to ensure a safe launch.

A detailed post-rub data analysis confirmed that the engines were, in fact, receiving the correct thermal conditioning, a requirement to avoid possible bearing damage when powerful turbopumps start spinning for takeoff.

“We’re on track for a 2:17 p.m. launch,” said Jeremy Parsons, associate director of Artemis ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center. “The team really did a fantastic job getting us out of the first launch attempt, fixing all the issues and putting us in a safe configuration to go into tomorrow’s launch attempt.”

Along with the engine cooling issue, the launch team also encountered a leaking seal in a hydrogen umbilical line that supplies propellant to the base of the SLS core stage and concluded that a vent line quick disconnect fitting that also briefly leaked the acceptable for flight as is.

Similarly, a post-grinding analysis showed that a crack in the core’s spray insulation, likely caused by thermal stress during Monday’s refueling, did not pose a significant risk to the rocket.

But engineers will pay close attention to the engine’s cooling process, known as “kickstart bleed,” which diverts liquid hydrogen into the engines and their turbopumps to condition them to the low temperatures of cryogenic propellants—minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit for hydrogen. .

While the data review indicated that all four RS-25 engines were adequately cooled on Monday, the start bleed was moved up in the countdown to Saturday’s launch in an attempt to allow more time for the hardware to cool. Temperature data from a suspect sensor on engine 3 will be ignored and engineers will rely on readings from other sensors.

Assuming a timely launch, the SLS rocket’s upper stage will boost the Orion capsule out of Earth orbit about an hour and a half after liftoff, sending it into an orbit to orbit the moon and into a distant orbit.

After extensive testing and checkout, the spacecraft will head back to Earth for a high-speed reentry and launch into the Pacific Ocean on October 11.

If the flight goes well, NASA will move forward with plans to launch four astronauts on a lunar orbit in 2024. That mission will be followed by the first Artemis astronaut landing in the 2025-26 timeframe.

Climbers record landslide on Mont Blanc

Cat carried over raging river amid deadly floods in Pakistan

Airlift dog from remote canyon trail in Arizona

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *