You know it: the Artemis I mission has again been postponed due to a liquid hydrogen leak that occurred during the loading of fuel into the central stage of the SLS rocket. Will the third time be the right one? NASA has already ruled out another launch attempt in early September. So we could look at October or even wait until next year.
The disappointment is obvious, both for professionals in the sector and for simple enthusiasts, all eager to attend the first launch of NASA’s new mastodon: the SLS rocket. After a faulty sensor, a hydrogen megaleak finally led mission managers to take no risks, as the stakes are high.
According to the first analyzes, a bad command sent inadvertently to the filling system would have increased the pressure in the tank of the rocket before the refueling operations. This could have caused the seal to move and cause the leak. If so, then it would be human error.
Jim Free, the associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said the various launch windows available in September are now ” out of context“. It’s a safe bet that NASA will choose to send his rocket back to the assembly building vehicles, six kilometers from the launch pad, to carry out the necessary maintenance.
When can we expect a launch?
In all likelihood, therefore, the next attempt to launch SLS will not take place before October. Several weeks ago, NASA had published a calendar revealing the various launch opportunities until mid-2023. On this calendar, the agency was careful to distinguish a short Artemis 1 mission of about twenty-eight days and a forty-two day long mission.
According to the latest news, there was talk of going on a long mission. In this way, NASA will be able to give itself the means to truly test its Orion capsule in anticipation of future manned missions.
If we keep this guideline, then the next launch window will be open from October 1 to 4, then from August 29 to 31. Several one-day windows will then be opened in November and December. In the event of multiple reports, the other windows are as follows: from February 3 to 9, from March 1 to 10, from March 29 to April 1, from April 26 to May 7, from May 26 to June 4, and finally from June 24 to 30.
If the Artemis 1 mission launches well this year, then Artemis 2 could be launched in 2024 or 2025. Artemis 3, which plans for the return of humans to the Moon, will then take place in 2025 or 2026, depending on the results of Artemis 2 .