While NASA officials confirmed in a teleconference today (November 3) that the highly anticipated Artemis 1 lunar mission will be challenging, they said they are confident of the upcoming launch attempt on November 14.
Artemis 1 mission stack, consisting of a huge Space Launch System (SLS) missile and Orion spacecraft, is scheduled to launch back to Launch Pad 39B from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT) on Friday (November 4). The SLS stack has been placed on the podium on three previous occasions, once in March and June for pre-launch refueling tests, and again in mid-August for My launch attempt failed. The missile was then returned to VAB on September 27 Get rid of Hurricane IanIt has since undergone pre-flight repairs and checks.
Despite these setbacks, NASA officials confirmed in a briefing today that they are behind the new mission schedule, which aims to attempt a launch at 12:07 a.m. ET (0507 GMT) on November 14. “If we are not confident, we will not be brought up. If we are not confident, we will not start the countdown when we do. We are confident moving forward,” said Jim Frey, associate director of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Frey added that the Artemis 1 mission was a challenge from the start. “I want to think about the fact that this is a difficult task,” Frey told reporters. “We’ve seen challenges just to get all of our systems working together. That’s why we’re doing a flight test. It’s about following things that can’t be modeled. And we learn by taking more risks in this mission than before we put the crew out there. And those challenges, you know, It comes with this complex of vehicles and where we fly and how we get there.”
“The good part about all of this is that our team continues to grow and get to know the car,” he added.
While the SLS has been at VAB for the past five weeks, NASA engineers have been replacing SLS flight termination system hardware, recharging Orion batteries, and replacing payload batteries, including batteries in some Mission Ten Redlung Cubes.
“Since returning to VAB for Hurricane Ian, the team has been hard at work,” said Cliff Lanham, senior director of vehicle operations for the Earth Exploration Systems Program at KSC. “The work at VAB went smoothly, we were able to protect the missile from the hurricane, and we were able to get into our inspections and make repairs.”
Lanham added that with preflight work now nearing completion, NASA teams at KSC have begun preparing for launch of Launch Pad 39 on Friday. “We are starting to pull our platforms. We are actually pulling our final platform now. And the crawler conveyor is now in the high bay below the portable launcher.”
Space.com asked NASA officials whether previous launches and the widespread media scrutiny that followed had affected the morale of many of the individuals working on the Artemis 1 mission.
“These are a professional group of people whose first loyalty is to devices and doing things right. And when we bring you all the discussions like this, I appreciate the questions and the ability to address things like what I just said, and the criticisms that have been thrown our way,” Free told Space.com. . “We spend taxpayer money. We have to be open to criticism and answering questions, but that will never put us in a place of too much pressure to launch too quickly or make a bad decision.”
Lanham added that the team’s enthusiasm had never waned despite previous setbacks to the mission. “We’re back in terms of ready to go and excited here.”
Artemis 1 will send an unmanned Orion rover on a long journey into lunar orbit and back. It’s the first mission at NASA Artemis program for lunar exploration, which aims to put people near the south pole of the moon in 2025 or 2026 and establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of the decade.