Scheduled for 20.37 in Italy, the second attempt after the one postponed last Monday will be delayed by up to two hours due to a fuel leak
Around 12 noon Italian time the final go-ahead to load the propellant for the rocket had arrived from the launch director Space Launch System (Sls) of the unmanned Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. But after the attempt from the Kennedy Space Center postponed a few days ago, it seems that the mission will suffer further delays: the sensors of the launch pad continue to detect a loss of liquid hydrogen. The leak is located in one of the connections along the propellant loading line between the central stage of the SLS rocket and the mobile launch pad. NASA technicians are hard at work, but the new launch scheduled for when in Italy it will be 20.37 it can be postponed up to two hours from the established time.
A woman’s first time on the moon
The departure rescheduled for tonight, as the agency explains Agi, marks the beginning of a project that will bring the human being back to the satellite, and then plan a trip to Mars. In recent days, NASA has worked to correct the technical difficulties that led to the delay of the last minute of the launch during the window originally scheduled last Monday. At first it looked like one of the rocket’s four main engines was too hot, but it turned out that it was just a reading from a “faulty sensor”. Then a leak in the fuel tank had to be repaired.
Between 1969 and 1972 there are 12 astronauts who walked the lunar soil, and fifty years later Artemis I has among its objectives to go there for the first time a woman. The name Artemis was chosen to recall that of the Apollo program which for the first time brought man to the moon: in Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and a goddess associated with the earth’s satellite.
Looking forward to 2024
What should leave today is a test flight of the 98-meter long rocket and the Orion capsule that will house the crew on board. Today there will be some mannequins equipped with sensors, to record vibrations, accelerations and radiation levels. Orion will orbit the Moon before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
Then expected for 2024, Artemis Flight 2 will have the crew and orbit the Moon without landing on the surface, similar to what Apollo 8 did. The four crew members will be decided by the end of this year.
The collaboration with SpaceX
The third Artemis mission will therefore be the first to bring astronauts to the moon since Apollo 17 in December 1972. For the first time NASA will land a manned spacecraft on the southern pole of the Moon, where the presence of water in the form of ice was detected. Previous moon landings occurred near the satellite’s equator. The launch of Artemis 3 is scheduled for 2025, but could be postponed to 2026. Starting with Artemis 3, NASA plans to launch manned missions about once a year. For the mission, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was chosen to build the lunar lander for Artemis 3. SpaceX’s Starship, still under development, will serve as a shuttle from the Orion crew capsule to the lunar surface and back.
Final goal: Mars
The Artemis program also provides the construction of a space station called Gateway that will orbit around the Moon. The launch of the first two elements, the housing module and the power and propulsion system, is expected no earlier than 2024 with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. The Orion crews will be responsible for assembling the Gateway: they will spend between 30 and 60 days on the Gateway and will eventually have access to a lander that will allow them to travel to the Moon and back. Gateway should also serve as a stopping point for any future voyages to Mars. The ultimate goal of the Artemis program is in fact what NASA calls “the next giant step: the human exploration of Mars”. The American entity will use the knowledge acquired by Artemis on next-generation spacesuits, vehicles, propulsion, refueling and other areas to prepare for a trip to Mars. The goal is to learn how to maintain a human presence in deep space for a long time. The creation of a “base camp” on the moon is part of the plan and astronauts will be able to stay on the lunar surface for up to two months. While a trip to the moon lasts only a few days, a trip to Mars will take several months.
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