Artemis I mission delayed

As part of NASA’s plan to bring humans back to the moon, the Artemis 1 mission will fly around our natural satellite aboard the unmanned spacecraft Orion and is expected to last more than three weeks.

Prior to that, the planned February 2022 Artemis 1 mission — which will be the maiden flight of a NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket — will be launched, according to a NASA statement. put off. . Released in March or April 2022.

The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis 1 mission inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.Image: NASA/Corey Houston

And the problem comes precisely from the Rockets. “After conducting a series of inspections and troubleshooting, engineers determined that the best course of action was to replace the motor controllers, restoring the rocket to full functionality and redundancy, while continuing to investigate and determine the root cause,” NASA officials said. in a report.

“NASA is developing an updated plan and schedule to replace the motor controllers as it continues to conduct comprehensive testing and review launch opportunities in March and April,” the statement said.

The SLS rocket’s central thruster is fitted with four RS-25 motors, each with an independent flight controller, which the agency describes as the “brain” of the motor. Each of these flight controllers can operate on two channels to provide system redundancy.

Artemis I system now complete at NASA Space Center in Florida

Earlier this year, the Artemis 1 rocket successfully tested its full launch program when docked in place, but now one of the controller channels is not functioning properly, so the agency decided to replace the system.

The complete Artemis 1 system, including the SLS rocket and Orion capsule, is undergoing final pre-launch testing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The tests performed include procedures that verify how the ground systems communicate with each mission hardware.

Several tests still need to be done before NASA can set a release date. These tasks include simulating a countdown sequence, refueling the rocket’s fuel tanks, and installing systems that abort the flight if something goes wrong.

According to Space, the culmination of testing the Artemis 1 mission before launch will be what rocket engineers call a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) — when the rocket starts and tests the systems responsible for ignition, such as pumps and compressors. According to the website, NASA hopes to pass the test ahead of an officially committed release date.

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