PanamaTimes

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

NASA aborts second attempt at launching Moon rocket

NASA aborts second attempt at launching Moon rocket

SLS rocket springs another fuel leak, forcing NASA controllers to call off a second bid to send a crew capsule into lunar orbit.

NASA has aborted a second launch attempt for its giant Moon rocket because of yet another fuel leak.

Mission managers called off preflight operations on Saturday, about three hours before the 2:17pm EDT (18:17 GMT) liftoff time targeted for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion capsule from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The previous attempt on Monday was also marred by escaping hydrogen, but those leaks were elsewhere on the 98-metre (322-foot) rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA.

The latest setback could delay the inaugural flight of NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Artemis programme for weeks, if not months.

The uncrewed test flight, aimed at launching the capsule to the Moon and back, was to have marked the inaugural voyage of both the SLS and Orion a half-century after the last Apollo lunar mission, the forerunner of the Artemis program.

The countdown was scrubbed after Kennedy Space Center technicians made three failed attempts to fix a “large” leak of supercooled liquid hydrogen propellant being pumped into the rocket’s core-stage fuel tanks.

Officials said the leak was too tricky and time-consuming to finish troubleshooting and fix on the launch pad before the current launch period allotted to the mission expires on Tuesday.

This means the earliest opportunity to try again would come during the next launch period that runs September 19 to 30, or during a subsequent October window, an associate NASA administrator, Jim Free, told reporters at a late-afternoon briefing.

The spacecraft will now be rolled back into its assembly building.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stressed that safety is the top priority, especially on a test flight like this where everyone wants to verify the rocket’s systems “before we put four humans up on the top of it”.

“Just remember: We’re not going to launch until it’s right,” he said.

Launch-day delays and malfunctions are not uncommon in the space business, especially for new rockets such as NASA’s SLS, a complex vehicle with a set of pre-liftoff procedures that have yet to be fully tested and rehearsed by engineers without a hitch.

On average, the odds of scrubbing a launch on any given day for any reason, including foul weather, are about one-in-three.




Those odds did not stop spectators from jamming the Florida coast to see the SLS rocket soar. Local authorities had expected enormous crowds because of the long Labor Day holiday weekend.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Cape Canaveral, said thousands of people had gathered in anticipation of the planned launch.

“It’s a real disappointment for the thousands of people who came to this part of Florida to watch a lunar launch on the space coast … A lot of people made a special effort to come here just to see the launch,” he said.

“Nobody wants to be planning a space launch and hear those clichéd and fatal words – ‘We have a problem,’ – but that is clearly what happened here.”

The $4.1bn test flight is the first step in NASA’s Artemis programme for renewed lunar exploration, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.

Artemis – years behind schedule and billions over budget – aims to return astronauts to the Moon’s surface as early as 2025, though many experts believe that time frame will likely slip.

Twelve astronauts walked on the Moon during six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972, the only spaceflights yet to place humans on the lunar surface. But Apollo, born of the US-Soviet space race during the Cold War, was less science-driven than Artemis.

The new Moon programme has enlisted commercial partners such as SpaceX and the space agencies of Europe, Canada and Japan to eventually establish a long-term lunar base of operations as a stepping stone to even more ambitious human voyages to Mars.

Getting the SLS-Orion spacecraft launched is a key first step.

Its first voyage is intended to put the vehicle through its paces in a rigorous test flight, pushing its design limits and aiming to prove the spacecraft suitable to fly astronauts.

If the mission succeeds, a crewed Artemis II flight around the Moon and back could come as early as 2024, to be followed within a few more years with the programme’s first lunar landing of astronauts, one of them a woman, with Artemis III.

Billed as the most powerful, complex rocket in the world, the SLS represents the biggest new vertical launch system NASA has built since Saturn V during the Apollo era.

Although no humans will be on board, Orion will carry a simulated crew of three – one male and two female mannequins – fitted with sensors to measure radiation levels and other stresses that real-life astronauts would experience.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×