NASA problems fixed and better weather make the launch of Artemis I more plausible.

 NASA problems fixed and better weather make the launch of Artemis I more plausible.

Artemis launch NASA problems fixed and better weather make the launch of Artemis I more plausible.

After Monday's scrubbed launch, Artemis I is seen sitting at Launch Pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at sunrise on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, as viewed from the neighboring Canaveral National Seashore. On Saturday, NASA will attempt to launch the moon-orbit mission once more.

NASA Officials are more confident that Saturday's launch attempt of their Artemis I mission to the moon will be successful after reviewing data that led to Monday's abort, and the weather could also cooperate.

Monday's abort at Kennedy Space Center may not have been necessary after NASA found that the main reason was inaccurate sensor readings. Although there were several problems during the countdown that caused stress to launch teams, the false reading was that one of the four RS -25 engines at the base of the Space Launch System rocket's core stage had not cooled down enough to allow a safe launch.

"We had some sensors that were not telling us what we thought," NASA SLS Chief Engineer John Blevins said during a mission update Thursday. "We did the right thing when we stopped on Monday with that uncertainty, but we confirmed that we had good flow through those thrusters. We know we can cool the engines. We are ready to move forward."

Artemis launch NASA problems fixed and better weather make the launch of Artemis I more plausible.

On Friday, September 2, 2022, Artemis 1 is poised for launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida amid cloudy skies caused by thunderstorms. At 2:17 PM on Saturday, NASA will attempt to launch the moon-orbit test flight once more.

Blevins said those sensors, out of reach on the launch pad, will be ignored for Saturday's trial. The two-hour launch window for the launch begins at 2:17 p.m., with a backup launch attempt possible Monday during a 90-minute window that opens at 5:12 p.m.

Weather for Saturday's launch, however, looks better than in previous forecasts. The Space Launch Delta 45 weather relay indicates a 60 percent chance of good conditions when the window opens, but improving as the afternoon progresses.

"I expect we will make some no-go calls at some point," SLD 45 weather officer Melody Lovin said Friday. "As the sea breeze drifts further inland from the East Coast, we expect some clearing on the back side, and that's the reason we are changing the forecast to an 80% chance at the end of the launch window.

If the start is delayed, the probability for Monday is set to 70%.

"I do not expect the weather to be a hindrance for either launch window," she said.

According to the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center, crowds on the Space Coast could be as high as 400,000, with traffic delays expected on both sides of the launch. That would be more than double the estimated crowd that left disappointed Monday.

Monday's cancelation was due in part to refueling problems that put time pressure on NASA teams. These included the discovery of a possible hydrogen leak and weather that caused delays in the countdown. Later in the countdown, testing of the so-called tapping system for supercooled liquid hydrogen in the engines proved too complicated to work around in the time remaining before launch.

Mission managers addressed the possible hydrogen leak and determined that the engines did indeed cool down during the tapping process, despite sensor readings; however, more time was added to the countdown to better troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

"So this is a test flight, right? I do feel good about our procedures, but if you look the team in the eye, they are ready," said Jeremy Parsons, deputy director of Exploration Ground Systems for NASA.

The goal of Saturday's rocket launch is to send the SLS rocket with the unmanned Orion capsule on a 38-day mission, orbiting the moon several times before touching back down on Earth in the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 11.

The core stage, along with the two solid rocket boosters, will generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust at launch. This makes SLS the most powerful rocket ever launched from Earth, surpassing the Apollo program's Saturn V rockets.

The mission is designed to push Orion to its limits, sending it on a much longer mission than if it were traveling with humans and ensuring that its heat shield holds up as it becomes the fastest spacecraft certified for humans, returning to Earth's atmosphere at 24,500 miles per hour and generating temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

While no humans are flying, three mannequins are strapped into Orion to test a new space survival suit and radiation jacket.

If all goes well, the mission will pave the way for Artemis II in 2024, which would take four astronauts on an orbital mission to the moon. That would be followed by Artemis III, which is expected to put humans, including the first woman, on the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Mission leaders warn, however, that despite confidence they have a handle on the problems encountered Monday, this weekend's attempt is not without risk. Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission director, said there are 489 launch criteria to meet before liftoff.

"Things like weather and a whole host of other criteria are part of our launch commitment. So we will wait and see what the conditions are, and we will launch when the vehicle is ready and we understand the risk situation," he said.

The countdown clock was reset Thursday to 45 hours until the start, and teams conducted power and leak tests through Friday, with refueling scheduled to begin around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

"There's no guarantee we will take off on Saturday," Sarafin said. "But we will try, and the technical teams have put in a lot of work in a very short period of time to get us here.

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