During NASA’s second attempt to send its enormous Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to the moon, the space agency is running into a number of unexpected challenges. After discovering a leak, the crew of engineers began adding liquid hydrogen to the rocket’s tank, but soon after they had to stop and restart the process.
The launch, which was supposed to take place on Monday of last week but was delayed, represents a significant step forward for the space agency’s Artemis program, which aims to send men back to the moon. If Saturday’s attempt to launch the rocket is successful, the Orion spacecraft will be sent into orbit around the moon by the rocket.
A commentator for NASA named Darrol Nail indicated that the crew is doing all in its power to keep this launch window open. There won’t be any astronauts on board.
Here’s what to know
- The two-hour launch window begins at 2:17 p.m. Eastern time. If all goes as planned, the mission will last roughly 38 days and culminate with the capsule splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
- The launch on Monday was canceled because engineers were unable to cool one of the engines to the required temperature. Since then, NASA officials have established that the issue was not the engine’s temperature, but rather a faulty sensor that was providing false data.
- The weather on the Florida Space Coast has been stormy this week, but weather forecasters say it won’t be a “showstopper.” The possibility of pleasant weather early in the Saturday window is 60%. Later in the timeframe, conditions should improve to 80 percent favorable.
- If all goes well, NASA hopes to launch an astronaut mission as soon as 2023. This would also orbit the moon but not settle on it. A landing could happen as soon as 2025 or 2026.