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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  NASA's Artemis I mission (Orion/SLS) (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   NASA's Artemis I mission (Orion/SLS)
Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
Artemis I launch countdown key events

L-13 hours and counting

  • The interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) is powered up (L-12 hours, 40 minutes)
  • All non-essential personnel leave Launch Complex 39B (L-12 hours)
L-8 hours, 40 minutes and counting
  • Built in countdown hold begins (L-8 hours, 40 minutes)
  • The launch team conducts a weather and tanking briefing (L-8 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Launch team decides if they are "go" or "no-go" to begin tanking the rocket (L-7 hours, 50 minutes)

L-7 hours and counting

  • Core stage liquid oxygen (LOX) chilldown (L-7 hours, 5 minutes)
  • Core stage LOX slow fill (L-6 hours, 25 minutes)
  • Core stage LOX fast fill (L-6 hours, 10 minutes)
  • Core stage liquid hydrogen (LH2) chilldown (L-6 hours, 5 minutes)
  • Core stage LH2 slow fill (L-6 hours)
  • Core stage LH2 fast fill (L-5 hours, 40 minutes)
L-4 hours, 30 minutes and counting
  • Core stage LH2 topping start (L-4 hours, 30 minutes)
  • ICPS LH2 chilldown (L-4 hours, 25 minutes)
  • Core stage LH2 replenish start (L-4 hours, 25 minutes)
  • Orion communications system activated (L-4 hours, 20 minutes)
  • ICPS LH2 fast fill (L-4 hours)
L-3 hours, 30 minutes and counting
  • Core stage LOX topping start (L-3 hours, 25 minutes)
  • Core stage LOX replenish start (L-3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • ICPS LOX chilldown begins (L-3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • ICPS LH2 validation and leak test (L-3 hours, 15 minutes)
  • ICPS LOX fast fill start (L-3 hours, 5 min)
  • ICPS LH2 tank topping start (L-3 hours)
  • ICPS/SLS telemetry data verified with Mission Control Center and SLS Engineering Support Center (L-3 hours)
  • ICPS LH2 replenish start (L-2 hours, 40 minutes)
  • ICPS LOX topping start (L-2 hours, 20 minutes)
  • ICPS LOX replenish start (L-2 hours, 10 minutes)
L-40 minutes and holding
  • Final NASA Test Director briefing is held
  • Built in countdown hold begins (30 min in duration)
  • The launch director polls the team to ensure they are "go" for launch
T-10 minutes and counting
  • Booster flight termination system moves to internal power (T-10 minutes)
  • Orion ascent pyros are armed (T-6 minutes)
  • Orion set to internal power (T-6 minutes)
  • Core stage LH2 terminate replenish (T-5 minutes, 57 seconds)
  • Core stage auxiliary power unit starts (T-4 minutes)
  • Core stage LOX terminate replenish (T-4 minutes)
  • ICPS LOX terminate replenish (T-3 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Boosters transition to internal power (T-2 minutes)
    Artemis I Press Kit 13
  • ICPS switches to internal battery power (T-1 minute, 56 seconds)
  • Core stage switches to internal power (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
  • ICPS enters terminal countdown mode (T-1 minute, 20 seconds)
  • ICPS LH2 terminate replenish (T-50 seconds)
  • Ground launch sequencer sends "go for automated launch sequencer" command (T-33 seconds
  • Core stage flight computer to automated launching sequencer (T-30 seconds)
  • Hydrogen burn off igniters initiated (T-12 seconds)
  • Ground launch sequencer sends the command for core stage engine start (T-10 seconds)
  • RS-25 engines startup (T-6.36 seconds)
T-0
  • Booster ignition, umbilical separation, and liftoff

Robert Pearlman
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Engineers troubleshooting engine cooling issue

Engineers are troubleshooting an issue conditioning one of the four RS-25 engines (engine no. 3) on the bottom of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage.

Launch controllers condition the engines by increasing pressure on the core stage tanks to bleed some of the cryogenic propellant (liquid hydrogen) to the engines to get them to the proper temperature range needed to start them.

Engine no. 3 is not properly being conditioned through the bleed process. At T-40 minutes, an unplanned hold was called to give the engineers time to troubleshoot the issue.

Robert Pearlman
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collectSPACE
NASA scrubs first Artemis I launch attempt due to rocket engine issue

An issue with cooling a rocket engine forced NASA to call off its first attempt at launching a spacecraft on a test flight to the moon.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, leading a team of flight controllers inside the Launch Control Center (LCC) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, called the scrub at 8:34 a.m. EDT (1224 GMT) on Monday (Aug. 29) after the Artemis I countdown had entered an unplanned hold at T-minus 40 minutes. Engineers ran out of time while troubleshooting the problem, which involved the flow of super-chilled liquid hydrogen into four rocket engines to bring them to the proper temperature for launch.

Robert Pearlman
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Artemis I try two: NASA sets Saturday for 2nd attempt at moon launch

NASA will make its second try at launching a spacecraft to the moon on Saturday (Sept. 3), six days after technical issues forced a scrub.

The space agency is now targeting a two-hour window opening at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT) on Saturday for the liftoff of its first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket carrying an uncrewed Orion capsule on a trip around the moon and back. The Artemis I mission is the first step in NASA's plans to return astronauts to the lunar surface before sending the first humans to Mars.

Robert Pearlman
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Artemis I tanking operations

From NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, live coverage with commentary of tanking operations to load propellant into the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the Sept. 3 launch of the Artemis I flight test.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA scrubs second Artemis I launch attempt, stands down for repairs

NASA's second attempt at launching its first new "mega moon rocket" in 50 years ended in a scrub on Saturday (Sept. 3), after engineers were unable to correct for a liquid hydrogen leak.

Artemis I launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson called off the launch at 11:17 a.m. EDT (1517 GMT) with two hours, 28 minutes and 53 seconds left in the countdown. The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket had been scheduled to lift off with NASA's uncrewed Orion spacecraft at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT) from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
Teams Continue to Review Options for Next Attempt, Prepare to Replace Seal

After standing down on the Artemis I launch attempt Saturday, Sept. 3 due to a hydrogen leak, teams have decided to replace the seal on an interface, called the quick disconnect, between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line on the mobile launcher and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket while at the launch pad.

Performing the work at the pad requires technicians to set up an enclosure around the work area to protect the hardware from the weather and other environmental conditions, but enables engineers to test the repair under cryogenic, or supercold, conditions. Performing the work at the pad also allows teams to gather as much data as possible to understand the cause of the issue. Teams may return the rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to perform additional work that does not require use of the cryogenic facilities available only at the pad.

To meet the current requirement by the Eastern Range for the certification on the flight termination system, NASA would need to roll the rocket and spacecraft back to the VAB before the next launch attempt to reset the system's batteries.

Additionally, teams will also check plate coverings on other umbilical interfaces to ensure there are no leaks present at those locations. With seven main umbilical lines, each line may have multiple connection points.

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NASA targets next Artemis I launch attempt, but a lot has to go right

NASA's next attempt to launch its new megarocket on a test flight to the moon could still happen this month, but only if the agency fixes a leak and receives a critical waiver from the U.S. Space Force.

Jim Free, NASA's associate administrator for exploration systems development, said Thursday (Sept. 8) that the space agency is targeting Sept. 23 or Sept. 27 for the launch of its first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on the Artemis I mission. Those launch dates, though, depend on a number of requirements, including securing a waiver to extend the time needed to check batteries on the SLS's flight termination system (FTS), which is used to destroy the rocket if it veers off course during its climb to space.

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NASA release
Teams replace seals on hydrogen fuel line, prepare for tanking test

After disconnecting the ground and rocket-side plates on the interface, called a quick disconnect, for the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line, teams have replaced the seals on the Space Launch System rocket's core stage associated with the liquid hydrogen leak detected during the Artemis I launch attempt Sept. 3.

Both the 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the core stage and the 4-inch bleed line used to redirect some of the propellant during tanking operations were removed and replaced this week.

Coming up, technicians will reconnect the umbilical plates and perform inspections over the weekend before preparing for a tanking demonstration as soon as Saturday, Sept. 17. This demonstration will allow engineers to check the new seals under cryogenic, or supercold, conditions as expected on launch day and before proceeding to the next launch attempt.

During the operation, teams will practice loading liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in the rocket's core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage and getting to a stable replenish state for both propellants. Teams will confirm the leak has been repaired and also perform the kick-start bleed test and a pre-pressurization test, which will validate the ground and flight hardware and software systems can perform the necessary functions required to thermally condition the engines for flight. Following the test, teams will evaluate the data along with plans for the next launch opportunity.

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NASA release
NASA Adjusts Dates for Artemis I Cryogenic Demonstration Test and Launch

NASA has adjusted the targeted dates for a cryogenic demonstration test and to the next launch opportunities for Artemis I, the first integrated flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon. The agency will conduct the demonstration test no earlier than Wednesday, Sept. 21, and has updated its request for a launch opportunity Sept. 27, with a potential backup opportunity of Oct. 2 under review.

The updated dates represent careful consideration of multiple logistical topics, including the additional value of having more time to prepare for the cryogenic demonstration test, and subsequently more time to prepare for the launch. The dates also allow managers to ensure teams have enough rest and to replenish supplies of cryogenic propellants.

NASA and SpaceX also continue to target no earlier than 12:45 p.m. EDT Monday, Oct. 3, for the launch of the agency's Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Teams are working the upcoming commercial crew launch in parallel to the Artemis I planning and both launch schedules will continue to be assessed over the coming weeks. NASA and SpaceX will review the Artemis I and Crew-5 prelaunch processing milestones to understand any potential impacts. The agency's Crew-4 return will continue to be planned following a short handover on the space station with Crew-5.

Over the weekend, Artemis I teams completed repair work to the area of a hydrogen leak, reconnecting the ground- and rocket-side plates on the quick disconnect for the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line where two seals were replaced last week. This week, teams will conduct tests at ambient conditions to ensure there is a tight bond between the two plates before testing again during the cryogenic tanking demonstration, and begin preparations for the test. During the demonstration, launch controllers will load supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage of the SLS rocket. The demonstration will allow teams to confirm the hydrogen leak has been repaired, evaluate updated propellant loading procedures designed to reduce thermal and pressure-related stress on the system, conduct a kick-start bleed test, and evaluate pre-pressurization procedures.

NASA is continuing to respect the Eastern Range's process for review of the agency's request for an extension of the current testing requirement for the flight termination system and is providing additional information and data as needed. In parallel, the agency is continuing preparations for the cryogenic demonstration test and potential launch opportunities, should the request be approved.

Specific times for the potential launch opportunities are as follows:

  • Sept 27: 70-minute launch window opens at 11:37 a.m. EDT; landing on Nov. 5
  • Under review – Oct. 2: 109-minute launch window opens at 2:52 p.m.; landing on Nov. 11

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NASA release
Artemis I Cryogenic Demonstration Test on Track

NASA remains on track for an Artemis I cryogenic demonstration test on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

In the days since the previous launch attempt, teams have analyzed the seals that were replaced on an interface for the liquid hydrogen fuel line between the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the mobile launcher and adjusted procedures for loading cryogenic, or supercold, propellants into the rocket. Engineers identified a small indentation found on the eight-inch-diameter liquid hydrogen seal that may have been a contributing factor to the leak on the previous launch attempt.

With new seals, updated cryogenic procedures and additional ground software automation, teams are now preparing to demonstrate the updates under the same cryogenic conditions the rocket will experience on launch day. During the demonstration, the four main objectives include assessing the repair to address the hydrogen leak, loading propellants into the rocket's tanks using the new procedures, conducting the kick-start bleed and performing a pre-pressurization test.

Based on recent engineering assessments, the new cryogenic loading procedures and ground automation will transition temperatures and pressures more slowly during tanking to reduce the likelihood of leaks that could be caused by rapid changes in temperature or pressure. After the liquid hydrogen tank transitions from the slow fill phase to fast fill, teams will initiate, or "kick-start," the flow of liquid hydrogen through the engines to begin conditioning, or chilling them down, for launch.

After both tanks have reached the replenish phase, the pre-pressurization test will bring the liquid hydrogen tank up to the pressure level it will experience just before launch while engineers calibrate the settings for conditioning the engines at a higher flow rate, as will be done during the terminal count. Performing the pressurization test during the demonstration will enable teams to dial-in the necessary settings and validate timelines before launch day, reducing schedule risk during the launch countdown.

Call to stations for the demonstration occurred at 5 p.m. EDT Monday. The launch director is expected to give a "go" to begin loading cryogenic propellants into the rocket at approximately 7 a.m. Wednesday. The test is planned to conclude around 3 p.m. after the teams have met the objectives and will not go into the terminal count phase of the launch countdown. Teams may extend the duration of the test should circumstances warrant it.

During the test, teams will load propellants into both the core stage and upper stage tanks, and Orion and the SLS boosters will remain unpowered. Meteorologists currently predict favorable weather for the test with a 15% chance of lightning within 5 nautical miles of the area, which meets criteria required for the test, and will continue to monitor expected conditions.

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NASA release
Preparations Continue, Key Milestones for Artemis I Demonstration Test

As the countdown continued Tuesday (Sept. 20) toward the cryogenic demonstration test, teams conducted final closeouts at the pad and performed other preparations for the test. Work will continue through the night, and all non-essential personnel will leave Launch Pad 39B by 3:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

The launch director is expected to give a "go" to begin loading cryogenic propellants into the rocket at approximately 7 a.m. Although the countdown clock is ticking down to a simulated liftoff time of 3:40 p.m., the test is planned to conclude around 3 p.m. after the teams have met the objectives and will not go into the terminal count phase of the launch countdown. Teams may extend the duration of the test should circumstances warrant it.

The launch countdown contains "L Minus" and "T Minus" times. "L minus" indicates how far away we are from liftoff in hours and minutes. "T minus" time is a sequence of events that are built into the launch countdown. Pauses in the countdown, or "holds," are built into the countdown to allow the launch team to target a precise launch window, and to provide a cushion of time for certain tasks and procedures without impacting the overall schedule. During planned holds in the countdown process, the countdown clock is intentionally stopped and the T- time also stops. The L- time, however, continues to advance.  

Below are some of the key events that take place at each milestone after the countdown begins. 

L-9 hours, 40 minutes and counting

  • 6 a.m.: Built in countdown hold begins (L-9H40M – L-7H10M) 
  • 6 a.m.: Launch team conducts a weather and tanking briefing (L-9H40M – L-8H50M) 
  • 7 a.m.: Launch team decides if they are "go" or "no-go" to begin tanking the rocket (L-8H40M) 
  • 7:25 a.m. Core Stage LOX transfer line chilldown (L-8H15M – L-8H)
L-8 hours and counting
  • 7:40 a.m.: Core stage LOX main propulsion system (MPS) chilldown (L-8H – L-7H20M) 
  • 8:20 a.m.: Core stage LOX slow fill (L-7H20M – L-7H5M) 
  • 8:20 a.m.: Core Stage LH2 transfer line chilldown (L-7H20M – L-7H10M) 
  • 8:30 a.m.: Core Stage LH2 slow fill start (L-7H10M – L-6H10M) 
  • 8:40 a.m.: Core Stage LOX fast fill (L-7H5M – L-4H15M) 
  • 9:30 a.m.: Core Stage LH2 fast fill (L-6H10M – L-5H5M) 
  • 9:40 a.m.: Engine bleed kick start (L-6H)
  • 10:20 a.m.: ICPS LH2 ground support equipment (GSE) and tank chilldown (L-5H20M – L-5H) 
  • 10:35 a.m.: Core Stage LH2 topping (L-5H5M – L-5H)
L-5 hours and counting
  • 10:40a.m.: Core Stage LH2 replenish (L-5H – Launch) 
  • 10:40a.m.: Core stage 90-minute bleed valve timer start (L-5H)
  • 10:40a.m.: ICPS LH2 fast fill start (L-5H – L-4H) 
  • 11:25 a.m.: Core stage LOX topping (L-4H15M– L-4H) 
  • 11:40 a.m.: Core Stage LOX replenish (L-4H – cutoff) 
  • 11:40 a.m.: ICPS LOX MPS chilldown (L-4H– L-3H45M) 
  • 11:55 a.m. ICPS LOX fast fill (L-3H45M– L-3H) 
  • 11:55 a.m. ICPS LH2 tank topping start (L-3H45M – L-2H55M)
L-3 hours and counting
  • 12:15 p.m.: ICPS LH2 replenish (L-3H25M – cutoff) 
  • 12:50 p.m.: Core stage LH2 Pre-press test – ~(L-2H50M) — approximately one hour
  • 1:10 p.m.: ICPS LOX topping (L-2H30M – L-2H10M) 
  • 1:30 p.m.: ICPS LOX replenish (L-2H10M – cutoff) 
  • 3 p.m.: Cutoff and critical safing (L-40M)

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NASA release
Cryogenic Demonstration Test Concludes

The launch director has confirmed all objectives have been met for the cryogenic demonstration test, and teams are now proceeding with critical safing activities and preparations for draining the rocket's tanks. After encountering a hydrogen leak early in the loading process, engineers were able to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the planned activities.

The four main objectives for the demonstration included assessing the repair to address the hydrogen leak identified on the previous launch attempt, loading propellants into the rocket's tanks using new procedures, conducting the kick-start bleed, and performing a pre-pressurization test. The new cryogenic loading procedures and ground automation were designed to transition temperature and pressures slowly during tanking to reduce the likelihood of leaks that could be caused by rapid changes in temperature or pressure.

After encountering the leak early in the operation, teams further reduced loading pressures to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the demonstration test. The pre-pressurization test enabled engineers to calibrate the settings used for conditioning the engines during the terminal count and validate timelines before launch day to reduce schedule risk during the countdown on launch day.

Teams will evaluate the data from the test, along with weather and other factors, before confirming readiness to proceed into the next launch opportunity. The rocket remains in a safe configuration as teams assess next steps.

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NASA release
Teams Monitoring Weather

NASA is monitoring the forecast associated with the formation of a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea while in parallel continuing to prepare for a potential launch opportunity on Tuesday, Sept. 27 during a 70-minute window that opens at 11:37 a.m. EDT.

Managers are initiating activities on a non-interference basis to enable an accelerated timeline for rolling back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to protect the rocket, should it be necessary. Discussions about whether to remain at the launch pad or roll back to the VAB are on-going and based on the latest forecast predictions.

NASA will make a decision on whether to remain at the launch pad or roll back using incremental protocols to take interim steps necessary to protect people and hardware with a final decision anticipated no later than Saturday. The step-wise decision making process over the next day lets the agency protect its employees by completing a safe roll in time for them to address the needs of their families, while allowing flexibility to hold the launch window should weather predictions improve.

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NASA release
Managers Wave Off Sept. 27 Launch, Preparing for Rollback

NASA is foregoing a launch opportunity Tuesday, Sept. 27, and preparing for rollback, while continuing to watch the weather forecast associated with Tropical Storm Ian.

During a meeting Saturday morning, teams decided to stand down on preparing for the Tuesday launch date to allow them to configure systems for rolling back the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Engineers deferred a final decision about the roll to Sunday, Sept. 25, to allow for additional data gathering and analysis. If Artemis I managers elect to roll back, it would begin late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

The agency is taking a step-wise approach to its decision making process to allow the agency to protect its employees by completing a safe roll in time for them to address the needs of their families while also protecting for the option to press ahead with another launch opportunity in the current window if weather predictions improve. NASA continues to rely on the most up to date information provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Space Force, and the National Hurricane Center.

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NASA release
Artemis I rocket to roll back to VAB

NASA will roll the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Monday, Sept. 26. First motion is targeted for 11 p.m. EDT.

Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area. The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system. The time of first motion also is based on the best predicted conditions for rollback to meet weather criteria for the move.

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Artemis I rocket takes shelter in assembly building from Hurricane Ian

With NASA's Artemis I rocket back inside its assembly building, the next chance to launch the moon-bound mission will depend on the aftermath of an approaching storm and the pace at which workers can complete critical hardware checks, agency officials said.

The towering Space Launch System (SLS) booster and its Orion spacecraft were rolled back from launch pad 39B to take shelter from Hurricane Ian as it nears Florida. Riding a crawler-transporter, the vehicle and its mobile launcher began the 4.2-mile (6.8-km) trip at 11:21 p.m. EDT on Monday (0321 GMT Sept. 27) and was secured inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center at approximately 9:15 a.m. EDT (1315 GMT) on Tuesday.

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NASA release
Teams Confirm No Damage to Flight Hardware, Focus on November for Launch

Teams at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida conducted initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts from Hurricane Ian. There was no damage to Artemis flight hardware, and facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations.

Next, engineers will extend access platforms around the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to prepare for additional inspections and start preparation for the next launch attempt, including retesting the flight termination system.

As teams complete post-storm recovery operations, NASA has determined it will focus Artemis I launch planning efforts on the launch period that opens Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 27. Over the coming days, managers will assess the scope of work to perform while in the VAB and identify a specific date for the next launch attempt.

Focusing efforts on the November launch period allows time for employees at Kennedy to address the needs of their families and homes after the storm and for teams to identify additional checkouts needed before returning to the pad for launch.

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NASA release
NASA sets date for next Artemis I launch attempt

NASA is targeting the next launch attempt of the Artemis I mission for Monday, Nov. 14 with liftoff of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft planned during a 69-minute launch window that opens at 12:07 a.m. EST.

Inspections and analyses over the previous week have confirmed minimal work is required to prepare the rocket and spacecraft to roll out to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida following the roll-back due to Hurricane Ian. Teams will perform standard maintenance to repair minor damage to the foam and cork on the thermal protection system and recharge or replace batteries on the rocket, several secondary payloads, and the flight termination system. The agency plans to roll the rocket back to the launch pad as early as Friday, Nov. 4.

NASA has requested back-up launch opportunities for Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 1:04 a.m. and Saturday, Nov. 19, at 1:45 a.m., which are both two-hour launch windows. A launch on Nov. 14 would result in a mission duration of about 25-and-a-half days with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Friday, Dec. 9.

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Artemis I rocket returns to the launchpad for third try at the moon

NASA's new moon-bound rocket is back on the launchpad for another attempt at beginning the Artemis I mission.

The agency's Space Launch System (SLS) booster and Orion spacecraft rolled out overnight, riding atop a mobile launcher and an upgraded Apollo-era crawler-transporter from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket's 4.2-mile (6.8-km) trip began Thursday (Nov. 3) at 11:17 p.m. EDT and was completed 9 hours later at about 8:30 a.m. EDT on Friday (0317 to 1230 GMT).

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NASA delays Artemis I moon launch due to approaching storm Nicole

NASA has postponed the start of its Artemis I moon mission ahead of an approaching storm that could impact its Florida launch site.

Mission managers on Tuesday (Nov. 8) decided to retarget the liftoff of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for Wednesday, Nov. 16, two days later than planned, as a precaution due to Tropical Storm Nicole. According to the National Weather Service, Nicole is expected to become a hurricane before making landfall along Florida's east coast on Wednesday evening (Nov. 9).

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NASA release
Teams Conduct Check-outs, Preparations Ahead of Next Artemis I Launch Attempt

NASA continues to target launch of its Artemis I mission from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:04 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Nov. 16. There is a two-hour launch window for the agency's first integrated flight test of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Teams conducted thorough assessments at Launch Complex 39B beginning Thursday evening, closely inspecting SLS, Orion, mobile launcher, and other pad-related assets to confirm there were no significant impacts from Hurricane Nicole, which made landfall more than 70 miles south of the launch pad. The physical inspections augmented remote monitoring via sensors and high-resolution cameras performed during the storm by a team in a safe location at Kennedy.

Space Launch System engineers have performed detailed analysis to confirm the sustained and peak winds experienced during the storm have no adverse effect on the structural strength of the rocket. While varying peak winds were measured by sensors at different heights at the pad, all measurements remained below 75% of SLS design limits, which also are intentionally conservative. Data from testing with actual hardware during the structural test series and modal testing, as well as other evaluations and modeling, provide confidence there is margin beyond the design ratings.

Technicians also are working to fix several minor items from the storm. Most repairs involve loose caulk or weather coverings. An umbilical used to provide purge air, or proper environmental conditions to the Orion spacecraft, was out of position. The umbilical maintained purge throughout the storm and has been repositioned to allow proper retraction at liftoff. Engineers have also removed the hard cover over the launch abort system window installed before the storm and will inspect the window to confirm it is in good condition for launch.

Today, as part of normal launch preparation, engineers are in the process of powering up rocket and spacecraft elements to confirm all systems are healthy. Powered health checks will continue until Saturday. Engineers plan to conduct the standard final software and hardware-related tests required before launch, on Sunday. The Artemis I mission management team will convene Sunday afternoon to review the preparations for launch.

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'Go' for Tanking Operations for Artemis I

The Artemis I mission management team met today (Nov. 15) to review the status of operations and gave the "go" to proceed toward tanking operations. Weather conditions are 80% favorable for the two-hour launch window which opens at 1:04 a.m. EST, with the primary concern being the potential for thick cumlous clouds.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson subsequently gave the "go" to officially begin propellant loading operations. During tanking operations, teams will load the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2), beginning with the rocket's core stage and then the interim cryogenic propulsion stage.

Tanking begins with chilling down the LOX and LH2 lines for the core stage. In sequential fashion, LOX and LH2 will flow into the rocket's core stage tank and be topped off and replenished as some of the cryogenic propellant boils off. The process involves slowly filling the core stage with propellant to thermally condition the tank until temperature and pressure are stable before beginning fast fill operations, which is when the tank is filled at a quicker pump speed.

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Core Stage Liquid Hydrogen in Replenish

Engineers have completed filling the core stage liquid hydrogen tank, and have moved into the replenish phase.

Core stage liquid oxygen fast fill is still underway. Although the LH2 tank is larger than the LOX tank, LOX is denser than LH2 and takes longer to load.

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Core Stage in Replenish, Upper Stage Loading Begins

Engineers have completed filling the core stage liquid oxygen tank and have moved into the replenish phase. Teams are beginning operations to load liquid hydrogen into the rocket's interim cryogenic propulsion stage.

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Upper Stage in Fast Fill

Teams are in fast fill operations for the interim cryogenic propulsion stage’s (ICPS) liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks. The ICPS is the upper stage of the Space Launch System rocket responsible for giving the Orion spacecraft the big push it needs in space to head toward the moon.

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Core Stage Liquid Hydrogen Flow Paused, Red Crew Being Assembled

Engineers have paused flowing liquid hydrogen into the core stage because of a small leak on a hydrogen valve inside of the mobile launcher.

A team of personnel called a "red crew" is being assembled to go to the pad to make sure all of the connections and valves remain tight. The valve is located within the base of the mobile launcher.

Meanwhile, engineers have completed filling the upper stage liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks and both have moved into the replenish phase.

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Red Crew Arrives at Pad

Technicians who are part of the "red crew" of personnel specially trained to conduct operations at the launch pad during cryogenic loading operations have arrived at the launch pad. They will enter the zero deck or base of the mobile launcher to tighten connections to ensure a hydrogen valve used to replenish the core stage remains tight.

NASA has historically sent teams to the pad to conduct inspections during active launch operations as needed.

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Red Crew Departs Pad

The red crew has departed the launch pad and is now outside the designated danger area surrounding the pad.

The technicians entered the zero deck, or base, of the mobile launcher and tightened several bolts to troubleshoot a valve used to replenish the core stage with liquid hydrogen which showed a leak with readings above limits. The launch team will check the valves to determine if the leak has been fixed and resume launch countdown operations.

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Core Stage Liquid Hydrogen Back in Replenish, Upper Stage in Fast Fill

Liquid hydrogen loading into the core stage is back in replenish mode. The launch team reports seeing good data where a red crew tightened connections in the area of a leaky valve on the mobile launcher. The leak has not reoccurred.

Engineers are back into liquid hydrogen fast fill operations on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage.

Engineers are also tracking the loss of signal from a radar site required for launch. The range is in the process of replacing an ethernet switch to correct the issue.

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Teams to Target New Launch Time

Teams have extended their planned 30-minute hold, and mission managers are expected to target a new time for launch.

The Eastern Range and launch teams have since resolved an issue that caused a loss of signal from a radar site and are currently in the process of conducting required tests to ensure communication and tracking of the rocket and spacecraft.

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Launch Managers Give "Go" to Proceed with Terminal Count, Launch Set for 1:47 a.m.

The mission management team has polled "go" to proceed with the terminal count sequence. The launch director is also "go" and teams have set a new target launch time of 1:47:44 a.m. EST (0647:44 GMT) and the countdown clock resumed at 1:37 a.m. EST.

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NASA's most powerful rocket launches on historic Artemis I moon mission

For the first time in 50 years, an American spacecraft built to carry astronauts has lifted off for the moon.

NASA's Artemis I Orion capsule slowly climbed into the skies above Florida on Wednesday (Nov. 16), rising atop the most powerful rocket the United States has ever built, the Space Launch System (SLS). The "mega moon rocket," as the SLS and Orion combination has been dubbed, launched at 1:47:44 a.m. EST (0647 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39B, the same place where Apollo astronauts once left Earth to prepare for the first lunar landing.

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Perigee Raise Maneuver Complete

The perigee raise maneuver has been successfully completed. The interim cryogenic propulsion stage fired for just over 20 seconds to raise the lowest point of Orion's Earth orbit in preparation for the critical trans-lunar injection burn that will send Orion to the Moon.

The trans-lunar injection burn is currently targeted for about 3:14 a.m. EST and will last about 18 minutes.

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Artemis away! NASA's Orion spacecraft is moon bound after TLI engine burn

Orion is now bound for the moon.

One hour and 45 minutes after leaving the ground, NASA's Artemis I spacecraft escaped Earth orbit to begin its journey to the moon. The uncrewed Orion is the first vehicle built for astronauts to achieve trans-lunar injection, or TLI, since the Apollo 17 command module almost 50 years ago.

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Orion Begins Checkouts, Completes First Service Module Course Correction Burn

Flight controllers in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston successfully completed the first outbound trajectory correction burn by the European-built service module's main engine as planned at 9:32 a.m. EST (1432 GMT) on Thursday (Nov. 16). The burn tested Orion's main engine for the first time and adjusted the spacecraft's course toward the moon. Several additional course correction burns are planned on journey.

Above: A view inside the Artemis I Orion capsule with a view of the manikin "passenger" recording data on conditions for the future crew members.

While Orion began its trek toward the lunar environment, 10 CubeSats deployed by timer from an adapter still attached to the SLS's upper stage. Each CubeSat has different timelines for acquiring a signal with its mission operators.

Flight controllers performed a modal survey, a test to verify that the models and simulations used to design Orion's solar array wings accurately reflect the motion that is occurring in flight. This was accomplished by firing Orion's reaction control system thrusters and observing how the solar array wings react to that specific firing sequence.

Engineers also calibrated the optical navigation system and gathered imagery using the spacecraft's cameras. Orion is outfitted with multiple cameras used for various functions such as engineering as well as sharing the progress of the mission with the public.

Scheduled for Thursday is the second outbound trajectory burn using the auxiliary thrusters, which will be used for most trajectory correction burns.

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NASA release
Orion Continues Toward Moon, Callisto Activated

NASA's uncrewed Orion spacecraft is on the second day of its journey heading toward the Moon as part of a planned 25.5-day flight test. Orion performed a second outbound trajectory burn at 6:32 a.m. EST (1132 GMT) on Friday (Nov. 18) using the auxiliary thrusters on the European Service Module, which will be used for most trajectory correction burns.

Above: On the second day of the 25.5-day Artemis I mission, Orion used its optical navigation camera to snap black and white photos of planet Earth. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness as a method for determining its position in space for future missions under differing lighting conditions.

Teams also collected additional images with the optical navigation camera and activated the Callisto payload, a technology demonstration from Lockheed Martin in collaboration with Amazon and Cisco. Callisto is located in the Orion cabin and will test voice activated and video technology that could assist future astronauts on deep space missions.

Yesterday, flight controllers moved each solar array to a different position as the Integrated Communications Officer, or INCO, tested the WiFi transfer rate between the camera on the tip of the solar array panels and the camera controller. The goal was to determine the best position to most efficiently transfer imagery files.

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Orion Conducts First Self-Inspection

On the third day of the Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft is now more than half way to the moon.

On Friday (Nov. 18), flight controllers used Orion's cameras to inspect the crew module thermal protection system and European Service Module, the first of two planned external evaluations for the spacecraft. Teams conducted this survey early in the mission to provide detailed images of the spacecraft's external surfaces after it has flown through the portion of Earth's orbit where the majority of space debris resides. The second inspection is required during the return phase to assess the overall condition of the spacecraft several days before re-entry.

During both inspections, the Integrated Communications Officer, or INCO, commands cameras on the four solar array wings to take still images of the entire spacecraft, allowing experts to pinpoint any micrometeoroid or orbital debris strikes. The team in mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will review the imagery following the survey.

Over the past few days, a team assessed anomalous star tracker data that correlated with thruster firings. Star trackers are sensitive cameras that take pictures of the star field around Orion. By comparing the pictures to its built-in map of stars, the star tracker can determine which way Orion is oriented. Teams now understand the readings and there are no operational changes.

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Go for Outbound Powered Flyby

On Saturday (Nov. 19), the Mission Management Team polled "go" for Orion's outbound powered flyby past the moon.

The burn is planned for Monday (Nov. 21) at 7:44 a.m. EST (1244 GMT). Orion will lose communication with Earth as it passes behind the moon from 7:25 a.m. through 7:59 a.m., making its closest approach of approximately 80 miles (130 km) from the surface at 7:57 a.m. EST (1257 GMT).

During flight day four, flight controllers moved each solar array to a different position to test the strength of the WiFi signal with the arrays in different configurations. The Integrated Communications Officer, or INCO, tested the WiFi transfer rate between the camera on the tip of the solar array panels and the camera controller. The goal was to determine the best position to most efficiently transfer imagery files.

Teams learned that having multiple cameras on at once can impact the WiFi data rate, and therefore, future solar array wing file transfer activities will be accomplished from one solar array wing at a time to optimize transfer time.

The Emergency, Environmental, and Consumables Manager, or EECOM, tested Orion's radiator system. Two radiator loops on the spacecraft's European Service Module help expel excess heat generated by different systems throughout the flight.

Flight controllers are testing sensors that maintain the coolant flow in the radiator loops, switching between different modes of operation and monitoring performance. During speed mode, the coolant pumps operate at a constant rate. This is the primary mode used during Artemis I. Flow control mode adjusts the pump speed as needed to maintain a constant flow through the system. The flight test objective is to monitor system performance and the accuracy of flow sensors to characterize the stability of this mode of operation. Each loop is monitored in flow control mode for 72 hours to provide sufficient data for use on future missions.

As part of planned testing throughout the mission, the guidance, navigation, and control officer, also known as GNC, performed the first of several tests of the star trackers that support Orion's navigation system. Star trackers are a navigation tool that measure the positions of stars to help the spacecraft determine its orientation. In previous flight days, engineers evaluated initial data to understand star tracker readings correlated to thruster firings.

Engineers hope to characterize the alignment between the star trackers that are part of the guidance, navigation and control system and the Orion inertial measurements units, by exposing different areas of the spacecraft to the Sun and activating the star trackers in different thermal states.

Just after 5:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 19, Orion had traveled 222,823 miles from Earth and was 79,011 miles from the Moon, cruising at 812 miles per hour.

Overnight, engineers in mission control will uplink large data files to Orion to better understand how much time it takes for the spacecraft to receive sizeable files. On flight day five, Orion will undergo its third planned outbound trajectory correction burn to maneuver the spacecraft and stay on course to the moon.

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Orion Enters Lunar Sphere of Influence

Five days into the 25.5-day Artemis I mission, Orion continues on its trajectory toward the moon.

Flight controllers in the White Flight Control Room at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston captured additional imagery of the Moon using the optical navigation camera. Gathering imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances will provide an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness as a location determination aid for future missions under changing lighting conditions.

Orion completed its third outbound trajectory correction burn on Sunday (Nov. 20) at 7:12 a.m. EST (1212 GMT), firing the auxiliary thruster engines for a duration of 6 seconds at a rate of 3.39 feet per second to accelerate Orion and adjust the spacecraft's path while en route to the moon. The amount of speed change determines which of Orion's service module engines – reaction control, auxiliary, or orbital maneuvering system – to use for a particular maneuver.

The spacecraft entered into the lunar sphere of influence at 2:09 p.m. EST (1909 GMT), making the moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. Overnight, Orion will conduct the fourth outbound trajectory correction burn in advance of the outbound powered flyby burn. Flight controllers will conduct the outbound powered flyby burn by firing the orbital maneuvering system engine for 2 minutes and 30 seconds to accelerate the spacecraft, harness the force from the moon's gravity and direct it toward a distant retrograde orbit beyond the moon.

The outbound powered flyby burn is the first of a pair of maneuvers required to enter a distant retrograde orbit around the moon. The outbound powered flyby will begin at 7:44 a.m., with Orion's closest approach to the Moon targeted for 7:57 a.m., when it will pass about 80 miles above the lunar surface. Engineers expect to lose communication with the spacecraft as is passes behind the moon for approximately 34 minutes starting at 7:26 a.m. The Goldstone ground station, part of NASA's Deep Space Network, will acquire the spacecraft once it emerges from behind the moon.

Mission managers currently have two active anomaly resolution teams. Anomaly resolution teams are a standard part of managing the mission by pulling together a team of technical experts to focus on a specific issue by examining data to understand the implications in a particular system. Activating a separate team for this work enables engineers and flight controllers to continue focusing on commanding and monitoring the spacecraft and assessing the progress of the flight test.

One team is currently looking at the star tracker system to understand a number of faults in the random access memory, which have been successfully recovered with power cycles. A second team is analyzing a few instances in which one of eight units located in the service module that provides solar array power to the crew module, called a power conditioning and distribution unit umbilical latching current limiter, opened without a command. The umbilical was successfully commanded closed each time and there was no loss of power flowing to avionics on the spacecraft.

Both systems are currently functioning as required, and there are no mission impacts related to these efforts. Analyzing the data for these systems and understanding their behavior during an active flight test while the hardware is in the deep space environment will improve mission operations on Artemis I and future missions.


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