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What’s Stopping NASA SLS Moon Rocket From Escaping Earth’s Gravity?
NASA’s next-gen Space Launch System (SLS) rocket which will kick off its Artemis mission to set up a base on the Moon, is still not ready to take off. After getting hit by several delays, the rocket is currently at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to keep it intact from Hurricane Ian.
The huge Moon rocket was earlier slated to take its maiden flight in August but was delayed due to a technical glitch in one of its engines. The issues were identified just 70 minutes before the takeoff. NASA attempted another lift-off in September, but another issue forced engineers to call it off.
Hurricane Ian Delaying Launch
NASA tried fixing the problems at the launch site itself, avoiding sending the rocket to VAB. But Hurricane Ian has forced the space agency to secure the rocket at VAB.
“As part of NASA’s hurricane preparedness protocol, a 'ride out’ team will remain in a safe location at Kennedy throughout the storm to monitor center-wide conditions,” NASA wrote in a blog post. “After the storm passes, they will conduct an assessment of facilities, property, and equipment. Once it is safe for additional employees to return to Kennedy, engineers will extend platforms to establish access to the rocket and spacecraft.”
NASA Looking For Another Launch Window
NASA engineers will review the issues again before bringing back the rocket to the launch site. The space agency is also on the lookout for a new launch window. The SLS engineers will retest all the systems and swap the batteries on the rocket's flight termination system before the next attempt.
“Managers will review options on the extent of work that will be conducted in the VAB before returning to the launch pad or identifying the next opportunity for launch. Technicians will swap out batteries on the rocket’s flight termination system and retest the system prior to the next launch attempt,” NASA added.
NASA previously announced October 2 as a possible launch date, but with the natural calamity coming in the way, the launch window is almost impossible to make use of.
Artemis Moon Mission In Trouble?
With the launch of the Artemis I mission, NASA will be sending an uncrewed Orion spacecraft toward the Moon. The goal of the mission is to fly-by across the Moon for six weeks and return to Earth.
Once the Artemis 1 is launched successfully, the space agency will prepare for the crewed Artemis 2 mission, and Artemis later in 2024, which will see astronauts land on the lunar surface. Well, all that depends on how NASA’s first step towards setting a base on Moon goes.