NASA resets moon rocket’s launch for Saturday because it analyzes information

A launch-pad screenshot reveals the underside of NASA’s House Launch System rocket, together with the 4 RS-25 principal engines on its core stage. (NASA through YouTube)

At some point after the primary launch of NASA’s heavy-lift House Launch System rocket needed to be scrubbed because of an engine cool-down subject, mission managers introduced that they’d attempt once more on Saturday.

Within the meantime, engineers will work out the small print of a go/no-go plan, simply in case they face points related to those who compelled Monday’s scrub.

Saturday’s two-hour launch alternative opens at 2:17 p.m. ET (11:17 a.m. PT) at NASA’s Kennedy House Heart in Florida. If all techniques are go, liftoff would mark the start of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed check flight geared toward setting the stage for sending astronauts to the lunar floor within the mid-2020s.

Some elements of the countdown shall be modified for Saturday’s try. For instance, mission managers are planning to conduct the engine cool-down process throughout an earlier stage of the fueling course of. That process entails “bleeding” off among the rocket’s liquid hydrogen gas to sit back the core stage’s 4 principal engines to their desired temperature of 420 levels under zero Fahrenheit.

When the cool-down system was examined in March throughout a “Inexperienced Run” at NASA’s Stennis House Heart in Mississippi, the process was performed efficiently, early within the fueling course of. However when the hydrogen bleed occurred later within the countdown on Monday, a sensor indicated that one of many engines — engine No. 3 — wasn’t chilly sufficient.

Mission managers determined to duplicate the process used at Stennis.

John Honeycutt, NASA’s SLS program supervisor, instructed the issue could be with the sensor, fairly than with the hydrogen bleed system itself.

“We perceive the physics about how hydrogen performs,” he instructed reporters. “The way in which the sensor is behaving doesn’t line up with the physics of the state of affairs.”

Honeycutt mentioned he and his workforce have been understanding a plan to confirm that the engines are correctly chilled, primarily based on a wider vary of knowledge. He mentioned the workforce most popular to keep away from having to enter the rocket and work on the sensor instantly, which could require rolling the rocket again from the launch pad.

“What I plan to do, with the assistance of the workforce, is put us in a state of affairs that will get us the information we have to know that we’ve obtained the engines chilled down appropriately and go fly, utilizing the information that we’ve obtained entry to right now,” Honeycutt mentioned.

Engineers may even look into different considerations that cropped up throughout Monday’s countdown — for instance, a vent valve leak within the SLS’s intertank area. Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson mentioned that leak was apparently a consequence of the troubleshooting that was executed on the hydrogen bleed system.

Forecasters say there’s a 40% likelihood of acceptable climate for launch on Saturday. If climate forces one other postponement, Blackwell-Thompson mentioned one more try might be made on Monday, on the finish of the Labor Day weekend.

For the Artemis 1 mission, the SLS rocket will ship an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a check flight that loops across the moon and heads again to Earth for a Pacific Ocean splashdown. NASA’s present plan requires Artemis 2 to ship a crewed Orion on a round-the-moon flight in 2024, and for Artemis 3 to hold astronauts to the lunar floor within the 2025-2026 time-frame.



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