CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission will attempt to launch again after all.
Mission leaders met on Monday (November 14) to discuss the flight readiness of the Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft following minor damage from Hurricane Nicole, which was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall on Thursday (November 10). Despite the fact that a strip of insulating caulking on Orion was damaged by high winds as the storm landed, Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said “he There are no changes to our plan to attempt to launch 16” during a media conference call today (November 14).
“The unanimous recommendation for the team was that we were in a good position to move forward and continue the launch countdown,” added Jeremy Parsons, deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program at Kennedy Space Center. (KSC) in Florida. If all goes as planned during the additional preflight checks and cryogenic refueling process on Tuesday, November 15, the Artemis 1 mission will launch from Launch Pad 39B at 1:04 a.m. EST (06:04 GMT) on November 16. november. You can watch the countdown, refuel and Artemis 1 launch live online here on Space.com courtesy of NASA.
Related: Watch NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket launch on November 16 online for free
Read more: NASA’s Artemis 1 Lunar Mission: Live Updates
One of the main areas of concern was an insulating caulking strip known as RTV, designed to smooth out a slight gap on the exterior of the Orion spacecraft. High winds during Hurricane Nicole tore away a 10-foot (3-meter) section of RTV off Orion. After the damage was discovered, it was feared that the missing caulking could create unwanted airflow that could lead to excessive heating during launch and flight. After reviewing the issue and performing several analyses, Artemis 1 mission officials believe the vehicle is still airworthy.
“We have reviewed the entire stack of vehicles from the Orion spacecraft down to the base of the stack and have agreed that the risk is limited by the current hazards and the hazard reports we have,” said Sarafin to journalists.
“That said, if we have an issue that would cause us to meet one of our banning criteria, it might not be our day,” Sarafin added.
Still, Parsons added that while there’s still a chance mission leaders will discover issues that would prevent a launch attempt on Wednesday, Nov. 16, there’s plenty to be proud of the way teams in ‘Artemis 1 thus persevered. far through the many setbacks of the mission.
“And I’ll tell you, the team is firing on all cylinders at this point, and so I can’t be more proud of them. Because I think if you asked me a few weeks ago, would we pass through a storm like Hurricane Nicole and then being able to turn around and have the vehicle cleared and be in good shape I would have said hey the odds are probably low But this team really just fired on all cylinders,” Parsons said.
Artemis 1 will see an uncrewed Orion spacecraft launch atop the SLS vehicle into lunar orbit. The mission aims to lay the groundwork for future Artemis missions that will see humanity return to the moon with the eventual goal of establishing a lasting human presence there.
Artemis 2 will see a human crew placed in orbit around the moon no earlier than 2023, while Artemis 3, scheduled for 2024 or 2025, will see astronauts leave boot prints on the lunar surface again.
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