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Artemis I Mission Delayed Due to Engine Complications

The Artemis program aims to return human presence to the moon.

Credit: NASA/Cory Huston (left) and NASA/Bill Ingalls (right)

After years of preparation, NASA has delayed the much-anticipated launch of Artemis I due to an engine bleed that could not be immediately resolved.

Artemis I marks the first launch in NASA’s ongoing Artemis mission series, which eventually aims to bring humans to the moon with a goal of increased lunar presence. This program marks the 50th anniversary of the last time humans stepped foot on the moon, an event which most recently occurred in 1972.

While the first mission in the series, Artemis I, was set to launch on the morning of August 29, 2022, takeoff was scrubbed due to a variety of complications. According to Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin, engine #3 experienced an engine bleed, an anticipated but dangerous risk that occurred while cooling the engines with liquid nitrogen for the initial launch.

Credit: NASA/Steve Seipel

Sarafin also noted an issue in the inner tank: the vent valve wasn’t operating as desired. In addition to technical complications, weather conditions were inclement, with light rain and eventually lightning clouding the launch window.

Sarafin anticipated a rescheduling of launch due to weather regardless of engine complications: “We would have been a no-go for weather at the beginning of the window due to precipitation. Later on in the window, we would have been no-go for lightning within the launchpad area.”

The next launch window opens on Friday September 2, 2022, around 1:00p.m. ET. It will last two hours. Sarafin did not comment on the team’s optimism for repairing in time to attempt Friday’s launch window. NASA will host a teleconference Tuesday, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. EDT to determine the feasibility of future launch dates.

Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Named in the tradition of its predecessor, the Apollo program, Artemis I is the first in a series of missions to increase human presence on the moon. In the next two stages of the Artemis mission, NASA hopes to return humans to the lunar landscape and organize a regular routine of crewed Artemis missions to, on, and around the moon.

The intent of Artemis I is to test for future crewed missions. Artemis I is uncrewed and will run through every element of future missions in order to evaluate its safety and maximize the potential of deep space exploration to come. Researchers and future crews will have the ability to see and assess the systems’ processing throughout the Artemis I flight.

This mission will test the take-off, spaceflight, atmosphere re-entry process, descent, splashdown, and recovery of the vehicle.

“After the launch from Earth, Artemis I will go on a 42-day mission. During the journey, the Orion spacecraft will travel 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the moon — 30,000 miles (48,000 kilometers) farther than the record set during Apollo 13. This path mimics the journey that the Artemis II crew will take in 2024.”

Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

In subsequent Artemis missions, NASA’s goal is to construct an Artemis Base Camp on the lunar surface. This Base Camp would serve as a living space and research complex. It will include a lunar cabin and a mobile home. Plans also include a Gateway spaceship that orbits the moon which will facilitate future lunar orbits and space travel beyond.

The Artemis program also plans to bring the first women and people of color to the moon’s surface.

Interested in reading more about the latest in space exploration advancements? Click here to see the stunning images captured by NASA’s Webb Telescope.

Written By

Makenna Dykstra (she/her) is currently pursuing her M.A. in English Literature at Tulane University in New Orleans. She writes journalism and poetry.

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