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Explained: NASA postpones Artemis 1 launch; here's what we know so far

Artemis 1 was supposed to orbit the moon, deploy some satellites, and settle into the orbit. It was meant to test SLS rocket and the Orion crew capsule

NASA | NASA moon mission | moon mission

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

NASA moon rocket
NASA moon rocket (Photo: Bloomberg)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Monday postponed the test fight for Artemis 1 . The launch was postponed owing to the fuel leak and an engine problem, which was reported during the lift-off.

Once launched, Artemis 1 will test the Orion spacecraft, a capsule that will orbit the and one day carry human crew members there. However, the launch was scrubbed off and the next launch will not take place until Friday, i.e September 2, at the earliest. Let's look at this mission and why to go to the anyway:

What is Artemis 1?

Named after Apollo's mythological twin sister, Artemis, the is, according to NASA, the world's most powerful rocket, which is capable of carrying more payload into deep space than any other vehicle. The first flight of the new Space Launch System (SLS), Artemis 1 is a heavy-lift vehicle. Nearly 100-metre tall (a few metres taller than the Statue of Liberty), the rocket can deliver 4 million kg of thrust. A first in the series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon, Artemis 1 is an uncrewed mission. There will be three test dummies --Helga, Zohar and Moonikin Campos --- fitted with sensors to measure vibration, cosmic radiation, and other conditions. During the six-week-long mission, Artemis 1 and the capsule will travel a distance of around 65,000 km to the moon and was scheduled to end with the capsule's splashdown in the Pacific in October.

Why was the launch postponed?

The launch was postponed due to a malfunctioning RS-25 engine, which was to be bled with liquid hydrogen and oxygen to condition it, before launch.

However, the team engineers noticed that one of the engines was not bleeding as expected. While the countdown clock was put on hold at T minus 40mins, the launch team was unable to resolve the issue.

A crack also seemed to appear in the inner tank's flange, however, after a thorough inspection, the launch team was able to confirm that there were no structural cracks in the tank.

Artemis 1 mission

The launch of Artemis 1 represented a milestone in America's quest to put astronauts back on the surface of the moon, for the first time in 50 years, after the programme ended. Artemis 1 launch will also be the first flight in NASA's 21st century moon-exploration programme. According to .gov, with Artemis 1 on the lunar surface, aims to demonstrate new technologies, business approaches, and capabilities that are needed for future explorations, including Mars. The launch also aims to help more in the study of the moon, its origin, and history.

Artemis 1 cost

The cost of Artemis 1 is estimated at $4 billion. With the delays and technical faults, the entire programme will now set back at least $93 billion, by the time astronauts land on the moon once again.

NASA's comments

Taking to Twitter, NASA, in a series of tweets informed us about the technical faults in the launch and the delay. A news briefing is also expected later today.

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First Published: Mon, August 29 2022. 22:29 IST