Head over to CNN for live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday afternoon. Space reporter Kristen Fisher will give us real-time reports from the launch, along with a team of experts.
The launch window opens at 2:17 PM ET and closes at 4:17 PM ET on Saturday. Currently, weather conditions are 60% favourable during the launch window, according to official meteorologist Melody Lovin. It does not expect weather to be a “display factor” for the launch.
The Artemis I kit, which includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, is still on Launchpad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“We’ll try,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis’ mission manager, during a Thursday evening news conference, although there is no guarantee that it will be launched on Saturday. Sarafin said that while the launch team will take a little more risk in trying to launch, it’s an acceptable risk for the team to feel comfortable with. The Artemis I mission is unmanned.
One area where the team assumes more risk is the conditioning of the No. 3 engine, which contributed to the scrubbing of Monday’s launch attempt. Another reason, Sarafin said, is a crack in the inner core stage foam that can disintegrate and hit part of the solid rocket booster, but the team feels the chances of that are very low.
“It’s a marginal increase in risk, but we’re clearly ready to fly,” Sarafin said.
“We had a plan to go into the launch attempt on August 29. I used the sensors to help confirm the proper thermal conditioning of the engines. We trained on that plan, and then we ran into other issues,” Sarafin said.
“We went off script in regards to the normal transfer process, and the team did a great job managing a dangerous situation. One of the worst things you can do when you find yourself in a dangerous situation is to go even further than the script.”
After reviewing the data, the team has a plan for moving forward.
Work has been completed on the launch pad to address two different hydrogen leaks that occurred on Monday. The team also completed a risk assessment of the engine’s conditioning issue and the foam fracture that also emerged, according to NASA officials.
On Monday, a sensor in one of the rocket’s four RS-25 engines, identified as Engine 3, showed that the engine could not reach the appropriate temperature range required to start the engine on takeoff.
Engines must be thermally conditioned before super-cold propellant flows through them before takeoff. To prevent the engines from experiencing any temperature shocks, the launch control units increase the pressure of the liquid hydrogen tank in the primary stage to send a bit of liquid hydrogen to the engines. This is known as “bleeding.”
Now, the team decided it was a bad sensor providing the reading.
“We had time to go back and look at the data and compare several data sources and do some independent analyzes that confirmed it was a bad sensor,” said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. , Alabama. “We get high-quality fuel through the engine.”
On launch day, the team will ignore the bad sensor, said John Blevins, SLS chief engineer.
The automatic launch regulator on the missile checks the temperature, pressure and other parameters. The bad sensor, which is not part of the sequencer, Blevins said, is not considered a flight instrument.
The team plans to start bleeding early in the countdown to what happened on Monday. The countdown to the launch will begin Saturday at 4:37 a.m. ET during a planned hold period. this When mission managers receive a weather briefing and decide whether the team should go ahead with loading the propellant into the rocket. The bleeding is expected to occur around 8 a.m. ET, said Charlie Blackwell Thompson, Artemis launch manager for NASA’s Earth Exploration Systems Program.
The two-day countdown is no longer needed, as it did during the first launch attempt, “because many of the configurations needed for the launch are already in place,” according to NASA.
“We have to attend, we have to be prepared, we have to see what the day brings,” Sarafin said.
If the mission begins on Saturday, it will go on a trip around the moon and land in the Pacific Ocean on October 11.
There is still a backup chance for the Artemis I mission to launch on September 5th as well.
The Artemis I mission is just the beginning of a program aimed at returning humans to the Moon, and eventually landing manned missions on the surface of Mars.