A difficult and extended test launch to the moon and back of a next-generation spacecraft.
At 1:47 a.m. US time yesterday, NASA’s Pad 39B at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) saw a liftoff.
NASA’s brand-new Orion spacecraft is being launched by Artemis 1 on an unmanned test orbit of the moon.
This test trip, which is the first crewed moon ship flight by NASA in almost 50 years, will determine whether SLS and Orion are prepared to assist in the return of astronauts to the moon by 2025 as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
“Liftoff of Artemis 1!” NASA commentator Derrol Nail said during the webcast of this morning’s launch. “We rise together, back to the moon and beyond.”
Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the Artemis launch director, spoke to her team at mission control a little while later.
“This is your moment,” she said. “We are all part of something incredibly special: The first launch of Artemis, the first step in returning our country to the moon and onto Mars. What you have done today will inspire generations to come.”
Yesterday morning’s attempt saw some obstacles, the same as earlier ones. Approximately three hours prior to launch, the SLS upper stage fueling procedure was underway when a leak in the liquid hydrogen replenishment valve on the mobile launch tower of Artemis 1 was discovered.
To stem the leak, NASA dispatched a specialized “Red Crew” to the tower, where they tightened packing nuts over the course of about an hour.
After that problem was resolved, a different problem with an ethernet switch at a radar site on the U.S. Space Force Eastern Range led to additional ambiguity and forced the range to be closed until a replacement could be obtained.
While the launch countdown was at the anticipated T-10 minute hold, the ethernet problem was resolved.
The project may have NASA engineers on pins and needles, but Artemis 1 seems to have the public’s attention.
To read our blog on “NASA Artemis Space technology discussion on Sept 22,” click here.