Launch of NASA’s new moon rocket, the world’s most powerful, was canceled on Monday due to a technical problem. The mission could still take place during the next firing window, according to the US space agency.
Will the Artemis 1 mission be able to take off in the next few days? While the takeoff of NASA’s new rocket for the Moon was canceled on Monday due to a technical problem, a next launch window would be possible on Friday, according to the American space agency.
“We are keeping the Friday option,” declared Mike Sarafin, in charge of the mission, at a press conference, without wishing to go further.
The analyzes of the NASA teams must resume on Tuesday to get a better idea of the time needed to resolve the problems that have arisen, in particular concerning one of the engines.
The launch, originally scheduled for 8:33 a.m. (2:33 p.m. French time) from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, was canceled due to a problem with one of the four engines, under the rocket’s main stage.
“Caution is in order”
“If we manage to solve this problem from the launch pad in the next 48 or 72 hours, Friday is quite possible,” added NASA, during a press conference. The space agency must hold a new press point at midnight this Tuesday, French time, to announce whether the date of Friday has been chosen for the launch.
This delay is not exceptional in the history of space exploration. Given the content of the mission, which aims to test the equipment, before a manned flight, “caution is required”, explains Philippe Perrin, ESA astronaut, at the microphone of BFMTV.
“We are not on an ordinary flight but on a test flight (…) The idea was not to do a particular mission but to calibrate the equipment”, adds the astronaut.
“We always prefer good postponement decisions than the excessive audacity to go anyway”, abounds the astronaut Jean-François Clervoy. Especially since the launch of this rocket, the most powerful in the world, is a first. “It’s completely normal for a first launch, a first machine, and a first rocket of this size”, assures François Forget, planetary scientist and research director at the CNRS.
“You don’t set the candle on fire until you’re sure of your shot,” said NASA boss Bill Nelson to the press.
The first step to Mars
If take-off does not take place on Friday, another window of opportunity exists on Monday September 5th. Then the possibility of take-off is interrupted until September 19.
The mission is to propel the unmanned Orion capsule into orbit around the Moon, to verify that the vehicle is safe for future astronauts – including the first woman and first person of color to walk on the lunar surface.
This trip to the Moon is the first of several others that should eventually allow man to reach Mars.