© Reuters NASA’s next-generation lunar rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), sits atop Orion’s crew capsule as rain clouds roll in as the Artemis 1 mission launches Complex 39B before relaunching at Cape Canaveral.
By Joe Skipper and Steve Gorman
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Reuters) – Ground crews at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday began preparations for launch on the eve of the second attempt to send NASA’s giant, next-generation moon rocket on its first full test flight. Five days later, technical problems failed the first attempt.
Mission managers were still “go” Saturday afternoon for the 32-story tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion space capsule to launch NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Artemis program, the successor to the Apollo lunar missions half a century ago, NASA officials said.
Technicians from Thursday night’s test appear to have contained a leaking fuel line that contributed to NASA halting Monday’s first launch, Space Center (NYSE: ) Deputy Program Manager Jeremy Parsons told reporters on Friday.
Two other key issues with the rocket — a faulty engine temperature sensor and some cracks in the insulation foam — have largely been resolved, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters Thursday night.
Melody Lovin, the U.S. Space Force’s launch weather officer at Cape Canaveral, said forecasts call for 70% favorable conditions during the 2 p.m. Saturday opening window, which is at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT), as well as the backup launch time on Monday.
“The weather continues to look good for Saturday’s launch test,” Lovin said. “I don’t expect it to be a weather forecast for either launch window by any means.”
Still, she added, the odds of clearing a start on any given day due to weather or any other reason were about one-in-three.
The mission, codenamed Artemis I, will mark the first flight of both the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule, which were built by NASA under a contract with The Boeing (NYSE: ) Company. Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: ), respectively.
SLS is about to begin an undisclosed 37-day test flight designed to launch Orion around the moon and put both vehicles through their paces before flying astronauts on the next mission, which is targeted for 2024.
If the first two Artemis missions are successful, NASA is considering landing astronauts on the moon by 2018. Including a woman standing on the moon as early as 2025, although many experts believe the deadline could slip by a bit. years.
In the year During the six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972, 12 astronauts walked on the moon. These spacecraft are the only space flights that have ever put men on the moon.
Apollo grew out of the Cold War-era US-Soviet space race, and NASA’s renewed focus on the moon was driven by science and included international partnerships with European, Japanese and Canadian space agencies and commercial rocket ventures such as SpaceX.
Unlike Apollo, the most recent missions to the Moon are intended to establish a permanent and permanent base of operations on the lunar surface and in lunar orbit as a stepping stone to the eventual human journey to Mars.
It is NASA’s first step off the ground using SLS, the largest new vertical launch system since the Apollo-era Saturn V rocket built by the US space agency.
If the Artemis I mission is delayed again for any reason, NASA could try again on Monday or Tuesday. After that, regulations that limit how long a rocket can stay in the launch tower may require the wheel to return to the assembly building before another liftoff attempt, Parsons said. Such action involves a delay of a few days or longer than a week.
SLS and Orion have been in development for more than a decade, with years of delays and ballooning costs reaching at least $37 billion as of last year. But the Artemis program has brought tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in business to the aerospace industry, according to NASA.
(This story corrects date of oil line tests to Thursday evening in paragraph 3).