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Launch of the Artemis rocket to the moon again postponed by NASA – rts.ch

The launch of NASA’s new mega-rocket to the moon was canceled again at the last minute on Saturday, causing another delay to the launch of the flagship program for the return of Americans to the moon, Artemis.

Takeoff was initially scheduled for 2:17 p.m. local time (8:17 p.m. Swiss), with a two-hour launch window. But after more than three hours of trying to fix a fuel leak during rocket fueling, time was running out for launch teams.

Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson made the final decision to cancel from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, a NASA commentator said in a video broadcast. This is the second postponement in a week.

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A new attempt could possibly take place on Monday or Tuesday, but NASA will have to analyze all the parameters before deciding on a new date. After Tuesday, no new launch possibilities are possible before September 19 due to the position of the Earth and the Moon.

Fifty years after Apollo

Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, this first test mission, without a crew on board, is the first phase of the Artemis program, the goal of which is to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon and then let as a springboard to Mars.

The orange and white SLS rocket, which should have had its first flight on Saturday, has been in development for more than a decade to become the most powerful in the world.

Shortly before 06:00 local time, the go-ahead was given to start filling the rocket’s tanks with its cryogenic fuel – a total of around three million liters of ultra-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen.

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Leak detected

But around 07:15 a leak was detected at the base of the rocket, at the level of the pipe through which the hydrogen goes to the tank. The flow was halted while the crews tried three times in a row to fix the problem, “without success,” NASA tweeted.

On Monday, during a first attempt, the launch was also canceled at the last minute due to technical problems, first a similar leak, which was overcome, then the cooling of the engines.

“The cancellation is absolutely the right decision,” responded journalists, astronaut Victor Glover, who was present on the spot. With these repeated tests, which make it possible to better understand this new vehicle, “people’s confidence should increase, not decrease”, he argued.

Taking off in October?

The period that currently allows a launch, determined by the positions of the Earth and the Moon, ends on Tuesday, but a possibility of lifting by then “is no longer on the table”, a press conference said. Jim Free, associate administrator at NASA, without announcing a possible new date for the moment.

Otherwise, “it will be an October liftoff”, he said, specifying that it would be mid-October instead, because a crew has to leave the same space center for the Station at the beginning of the month. international space take off. The next periods for a launch are from 19 September to 4 October, then from 17 to 31 October.

Six weeks in space

In the middle of the long weekend in the United States, up to 400,000 people were expected to admire the take-off, especially from the surrounding beaches. A host of astronauts also made the trip, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet.

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Artemis 1 should make it possible to verify that the Orion capsule, at the top of the rocket, is safe to carry astronauts in the future.

Thanks to this new craft, the US space agency intends to reconnect with distant human exploration, the moon is 1000 times further away than the International Space Station.

The trip is expected to last about six weeks in total. Orion will venture up to 64,000 kilometers behind the Moon, further than any other habitable spacecraft to date.

The main purpose of Artemis 1 is to test the capsule’s heat shield, the largest ever built. On its return to Earth’s atmosphere, it will have to withstand a speed of 40,000 km/h and a temperature half as hot as that of the sun’s surface.

In total, the ship has to travel about 2.1 million kilometers until it lands in the Pacific Ocean.

ats/hkr

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