NASA Delays Artemis 1 Space Mission

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NASA had called off its plans to launch their Artemis 1 space mission using a new rocket last the 13th of September due to a stubborn fuel leak. The agency had initially hoped for their moon mission to push through atop their towering SLS or Space Launching System mega-rocket back on Saturday. However, hydrogen fuel leaks thwarted their attempt several hours before the intended liftoff.

Engineers had repeatedly tried to address concerns with the fuel leaks during the countdown for Artemis 1. They began by warming its tank connector, chilling it after using cold fuel so they could reseat the quick-disconnect connector of the hydrogen. Next, they repressurized it using helium, returning to their method of warming and chilling to resolve the leaking problem. But unfortunately, all attempts failed. 

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Second delay for Artemis 1

The delayed launch of the Artemis 1 is the second of the week for NASA’s moon mission plans, meaning that they will have to wait for at least another week to make the next attempt at a successful launch. And that’s assuming they can repair the leak’s source in time. The administrator of the agency, Bill Nelson, had commented that they would only proceed with the launch if everything were ready and that these delays aren’t at all uncommon in this business.

Victor Glover, an astronaut, mirrored these sentiments, stating that it was the right choice, adding the importance of understanding the complexity of the machines. If NASA needs to roll the SLS rocket of Artemis 1 into their vehicle assembly hangar to be repaired, there’s a good chance that the launching of the mission may slip to the following month. However, with plans to get four of their astronauts to the ISS on the Crew-5 Dragon space mission of SpaceX early in October, the Artemis 1 mission would likely happen after.

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Space mission pushback

There’s a launch window for Artemis in mid-September, but there’s a strong possibility that it’ll be pushed back to mid or late October because of how much time is needed for repairs and testing. This window opens up on the 17th of October but closes at the end of the month. The importance of the mission cannot be overstated, considering NASA’s plans of getting astronauts to space and the moon before or by 2025.

This will be an uncrewed space mission to test the agency’s strongest rocket, SLS, and the Orion spacecraft with the purpose of ensuring both are able to fulfill their intended objectives while keeping the astronauts safe. Once Artemis 1 is able to launch into space, it will spend around a month as it flies towards the moon, looping the natural satellites in long orbit around Earth before returning to the planet.

Beyond space exploration and pursuing knowledge, the program aims to do more than merely land humans on the moon. Some believe one of the goals to be the acquisition of lunar resources, possibly leading to another space race as China and Russia are also cooperating on their moon programs.