NASA has confirmed that the next launch attempt for the Artemis I mission will be at night, starting at midnight in the early hours of Monday, November 14. After a difficult few months of testing the Earth’s Space Launch System rocket for the first time, including several wetsuit reviews, two previous launch attempts, a test tank, and a tornado break, the rocket will begin to roll back. to Dock Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after midnight on Friday, November 4.
Night launches mean lower visibility, and NASA representatives said they prefer a light launch. However, the team was confident that the night launch could be done safely and meet all mission requirements, said Jim Free, associate administrator for Systems Development for NASA’s Exploration Mission Directorate. In the public hearing, the opening night means that the view is not good, but there are still some visuals available.
“We have IR cameras. We’re starting to get some visuals – a big fire coming out the back to help light for us as well,” Free said in a media teleconference. “We have a large number of cameras in here that we will still get shots from.”
The purpose of the unplanned launch on November 14 is to test the new Space Launch System of the Orion rocket and spacecraft by sending it on a flight around the Moon before scheduled missions are disrupted.
A more recent launch attempt in late September was hampered by Hurricane Ian, which battered the Florida coast, forcing the rocket to deploy to the launchpad and into a building called the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) several miles away.
“When we had to turn around the tornado, I have to say it was disappointing,” said Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations officer for the Ground Systems Program at Kennedy.
After being in the building for several weeks, the rocket will now make the four-mile journey from the VAB to the launchpad, which carries a 6.6 million-pound engine called a crawler on a trip that typically takes between eight and 12 hours. .
As always with rocket launches, the weather is a factor in whether it is safe to launch. Weather officer Mark Burger of the 45th US Space Weather Team said the weather looks good to start rolling in tonight, but over the weekend, they will keep an eye on a low pressure area developing near Puerto Rico. There is about a 30 percent chance of this system developing into a storm, which could result in rain and winds of up to 40 knots off the Florida coast, but Burger said those conditions are within acceptable parameters for a rollout.
There are also concerns about the life of the rocket bike, as the framework connecting the segments only lasts a certain amount of time after being put in place, and the batteries only last three months. The runners were originally certified to last for 12 months after placement, a schedule that expired in January 2022, but the lifespan was extended to 23 months with the first part expiring on December 9. If the rocket does not launch before this date, the agency will have to perform another assessment of whether the parts are still useful for use.
If there are issues with the November 14th launch, they will provide backup opportunities on November 16th and November 19th.
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