The Artemis I launch team is ready for another “test” on Saturday

The Artemis I launch team is ready for another "test" on Saturday
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Tune in to CNN Saturday afternoon for live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space Correspondent Christine Fisher and a team of experts will present reports from the launch.

The launch window opens at 2:17 PM ET and closes at 4:17 PM ET on Saturday. According to Melody Lovin, weather conditions are currently 60% favorable during the release window. He doesn’t expect the weather to be an “indicator” for the release.

The Artemis I stack, which contains the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft, continues to sit on Launchpad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said during a press conference Thursday evening that while there was no guarantee it would launch on Saturday, “we’re going to try.” Sarafin said that while the launch team is taking a little more risk in the launch attempt, those are acceptable risks that the team is comfortable with. The Artemis I mission is uncrewed.

One area where the team is taking more risks is the conditioning of the No. 3 engine, which contributed to the rub on Monday’s launch attempt. Another is a delivery in the foam of the main stage of the intertank tank, which could break off and hit part of the solid rocket booster, but the team thinks the chances of that are very low, Sarafin said.

It’s a “marginal increase in risk,” Sarafin said, but “we’re clearly ready to fly.”

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“We had a plan for an August 29 launch attempt. It used sensors to confirm proper thermal conditioning of the engines. We trained that plan and then ran into other issues,” Sarafin said.

“We were off-script in terms of a normal weighing operation and the team did a fantastic job with handling the dangerous situation. One of the worst things you can do when you find yourself in a dangerous situation is to just go. It’s even further off-script.”

After reviewing the data, the team has a plan for moving forward.

Work on the launch pad has been completed to address two separate hydrogen leaks that occurred on Monday. The team also completed a risk assessment of the engine’s air conditioning problem and foam crack, NASA officials said.

On Monday, a sensor in one of the rocket’s four RS-25 engines, identified as engine No. 3, indicated that the engine failed to reach the proper temperature range needed for engine activation during liftoff.

Before taking off, the engines must be thermally conditioned before passing super-cold fuel through them. To prevent the engines from experiencing any temperature shock, the launch controllers increase the pressure of the liquid hydrogen tank on the main stage to send some of the liquid hydrogen to the engines. This is known as “bleeding”.

Now the team has determined that it was a bad sensor that provided the reading.

“We had time to go back and look at the data and compare multiple data sources and do some independent analysis that confirmed it was a bad sensor,” said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. , Alabama. “We’re getting good quality fuel through the engine.”

Artemis I will take a trip around the moon scheduled for Saturday

SLS chief engineer John Blevins said the team will ignore the bad sensor on launch day.

An automated launch sequence on the rocket checks temperature, pressure and other parameters. A bad sensor that is not part of the sequencer is not considered a flight instrument, Blevins said.

The team plans to start the countdown to the bleeding sooner rather than later on Monday. The countdown to kickoff will begin at 4:37 a.m. Saturday during the scheduled wait. This is so when mission managers receive a weather briefing and decide whether the team should continue refueling the rocket. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director for NASA’s Exploration Earth Systems Program, said the bleed-off is expected to occur at 8 a.m.

According to NASA, there is no need for a two-day countdown, as was the case with the first launch attempt, “because many of the configurations needed for the launch are already in place.”

NASA’s live broadcast will begin at this hour 5:45 a.m. ET on their websiteand television channel.

“We have to show up, be ready and see what the day brings,” Sarafin said.

If the mission launches on Saturday, it will travel around the moon on October 11 and splash into the Pacific Ocean.

There is still a backup opportunity for the Artemis I mission to launch on September 5.

The Artemis I mission is just the beginning of a program that aims to return humans to the Moon and eventually land manned missions to Mars.

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