NASA aims for the second half of October to launch the mission to the Moon – La Vanguardia

NASA has given up on launching the Artemis 1 mission to the moon this week after concluding it will take at least several days to fix the problem that forced the launch to be canceled on Saturday. The rotation of the Moon around the Earth means that the launch can only be carried out when the satellite is in a part of its orbit that allows it to get there following the path foreseen in the mission plan. The next opportunity for release runs from September 19 to October 4. But NASA Director Bill Nelson said Saturday that he saw the launch as more likely to be delayed to the period from October 17 to 31. The part that caused the fuel leak could be changed without moving the rocket from the launch tower To launch at the end of September, it would be necessary to quickly repair the failure that occurred on Saturday during the SLS rocket’s fuel load, something that those responsible for the mission they cannot guarantee. Later, on October 3, there is another launch scheduled from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which would interfere with the liftoff of Artemis 1 around that date – a mission to the International Space Station with two US astronauts, one of Japan and one from Russia. It will be the first launch of the SLS (initials in English for Space Launch System), the most powerful rocket in NASA’s history and the one that should allow manned missions to the Moon to resume in the middle of this decade. The fuel leak that forced the launch to be suspended on Saturday was not located in the rocket but in the conduit through which liquid hydrogen is introduced into the vehicle. The first analyzes place the origin of the problem in a joint twenty centimeters long through which part of the hydrogen escaped. The problem could be the result of an erroneous command sent to the fueling system that temporarily raised the pressure inside the gasket to three times what was expected, Mike Sarafin, director of the Artemis 1 mission, reported Saturday. SLS rocket leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building heading for the launch tower on August 16 Terry Renna / AP Launch officials are evaluating two options to replace the problematic part, NASA said in a statement. One is to replace it without moving the rocket from the launch tower, which would allow a test of the fuel loading system with liquid hydrogen at 253 degrees below zero, simulating the conditions prior to a launch. The other is to make the switch at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which is the Kennedy Space Center’s largest rocket-building workshop and one of the largest buildings in the world. This second option would not allow the piece to be tested with liquid hydrogen, but it would make it easier to work with the more protected rocket and without the complications of having it in the launch tower. Whichever option is chosen, NASA has ruled out replacing and testing the problematic part to make it in time for a launch tonight or tomorrow night, which were the last possible options for sending the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon this week. Each postponement costs more than a million dollars Although NASA has not provided an estimate of the cost of postponing an SLS rocket launch, it did make this calculation with the launches of the shuttles, which worked with the same technologies. In fact, the SLS’s engines, side thrusters and orange central body come from the shuttle programme. In the case of the shuttles, NASA estimated in 2009 that postponing a launch cost $1.2 million, of which $500,000 was for fuel lost when filling and emptying the rocket’s tanks and $700,000 for personnel costs. This amount – somewhat higher for the SLS, because it carries more fuel and due to inflation – represents a tiny proportion of the 4,100 million dollars of the Artemis 1 mission. “The cost of two postponements is much less than that of a failure” of the mission, NASA Director Bill Nelson said Saturday.