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Black clouds over the Artemis 1 mission? I like science

Black clouds over the Artemis 1 mission?  I like science

Estimated time: 4 minutes

On August 29, a major breakthrough was scheduled for the return of humans to the Moon. The Artemis 1 mission was to be launched from Historic Site 39B at the Cape Canaveral Space Center. Unfortunately, the launch has not taken place today, and the announced date is November 14. What are the reasons for the delays, and do they indicate serious flaws in the planning and implementation of NASA’s flagship project?

The task of Artemis – what is its purpose?

Artemis officially started in 2019, but in fact it contains elements from previous, canceled, completed, or even Apollo Constellation projects. The goal was clear from the start: to bring man back to the surface of the moon and then build a base called the Gateway there.

The portal, that is, the portal that will become a bridgehead for missions that reach far beyond the universe. To make this possible, the presence of water on the moon must be checked and the possibility of its effective collection and treatment must be tested.

You can read more about the mission here: Artemis 1 – Back to the Moon

Therefore, the program is not another program in a series of interesting, but not very attractive science missions, to Mars, a comet or an asteroid. This time the goal is incomparably more important, and in addition, it must be a human foot, and of course it must be an American foot.

Although the participation of humans and their subsequent landing on the moon was not planned until the next missions, this is exactly what happened Artemis 1 is certifying an SLS rocket and manned Orion module for such long-distance expeditions.

If this trip does not work out, there may be no more and the entire program will be questioned. And this would not only be a graphic disaster for NASA, but also for the entire United States, and a personal insult to many of the country’s citizens. In short, failure is not an option.

Why was the start late?

To avoid failure, the approved safety standards are very strict and any deviation from the norm is taken very seriously. An acceptable level of risk is assigned to each potential source of risk; If it is exceeded, corrective actions are taken, and if they are unsuccessful, the start will be stopped.

So, does delayed start indicate irreversible problems in key elements of the program? I do not think so. The Return to the Moon program has been delayed almost since its inception – After all, the landing was originally supposed to take place in 2014, which quickly proved impossible, and the program was discontinued and restarted under the new name a few years later.

Read also: Hello earth! This is the Webb and Space Communications telescope

It must be remembered that lead projects usually enter unknown territory, so they do not adhere to the assumed schedule and never exceed it. Various difficulties arise, and finding the right solutions requires more time, changes, people and resources.

Reasons for unsuccessful boot attempts so far

So far, the launch of the Artemis 1 mission has been delayed three times, but each time the reason was slightly different. The first time – August 29 – the countdown stopped due to incorrect reading of the duplicate sensor. So the start may have been technically feasible, but safety considerations prevailed and the start was delayed for a few days.

On September 3, a hydrogen leak occurred while filling the fuel tanks. Leaks before takeoff in and of themselves are not unusual, and other missions have seen them as well, but when the engines have been fired, out-of-engine ignition can be a significant threat. Since the leak could not be eliminated, the startup procedure was again suspended.

Read also: First trip to the moon – is it worth getting back there?

We had to wait over three weeks to get the next time period. But at that time, meteorologists raised an objection, because the expected course of Hurricane Ian was near the space center, and this threatened not only to delay the take-off, but also to destroy the rocket. So a long-range decision was made and the missile was ordered back to the gigantic vehicle assembly building where it could wait.

Therefore, speculation about the fundamental problems of the entire mission is unlikely to be substantiated, and the next attempt to take off will be made on November 14.

After all, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched with a delay of about 20 years, which was due to technological, financial and practical difficulties and the emergence of a pandemic. However, in the end, the mission itself, extremely complex and unprecedented in the history of the conquest of space, turned out to be a great success.

Not only did he not make an irreversible mistake, but it went much better than expected, and less fuel was used, thanks to which the telescope will be able to operate for much longer than expected.

Therefore, despite the accumulation of a few dark clouds during the program, they should soon diverge, and the path to the moon will be not only clearly visible, but also relatively easy to overcome.


Bartoss Walter

I’m an IT professional who specializes in the evolution and aging processes of computer software, but I’m also interested in broadly understood technology, engineering, and astronomy. In short – I am passionate about the whole world and its secrets. I also love to talk about my feelings.

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