Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

As the completed vehicle approaches the last phase of launch preparations, NASA officials have stated that the Artemis 1 launch will take place no earlier than February. In a conference call with reporters on October 22, agency officials stated the Orion spacecraft had been installed on top of Space Launch System’s upper stage, completing the vehicle’s assembly for the Artemis 1 launch. The spacecraft was moved to the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on October 19.

“Completing stacking is a significant achievement. Mike Sarafin, who works as the manager of Artemis 1 mission at the NASA Headquarters, said, “It signifies that we’re on the home stretch for the mission.” According to Tom Whitmeyer, who is serving as the NASA deputy associate administrator in charge of the exploration systems development, the finished vehicle will be tested inside the VAB before being transported out to Launch Complex 39B later this year. Early January will see a wet dress rehearsal, in which the SLS core stage is fuelled and goes through the practice countdown, which stops just shy of ignition of the four RS-25 engines. After that, the spacecraft will return to the VAB for last preparations before returning to the launch pad.

For the launch, he said, “we’re looking at a duration of time within February.” “We’re really looking forward to it. We believe this is a huge step forward.” Sarafin stated that Artemis 1 would be available for purchase from February 12 through February 27. The first conceivable launch date is February 12 at 5:56 p.m. Eastern, which is the beginning of a 21-minute timeframe. Additional launch windows are available from March 12 to March 27 and April 8 to April 23.

The efficiency of the SLS determines the launch windows. “It actually has to do with 3-body problem that we’re dealing with” involving the vehicle, Earth, and moon, as well as limitations on an Orion splashdown in daylight. “We are performance constrained with Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage at various periods in the lunar cycle.”

NASA had originally planned a one-week launch window per month. However, he said that mission planner was able to double the duration of the mission by altering the operation’s parameters. The mission is going to last six weeks if launched in the first part of the period versus four weeks if launched in the second half. The key difference, he explained, is getting an additional lap around the moon in distant retrograde orbit of Orion, which creates the ideal landing conditions.

The event marked NASA’s first official confirmation that Artemis 1 would not launch this year. NASA had been promoting a late-this-year launch in public pronouncements, despite agency chiefs admitting in recent weeks that a delay to beginning next year was becoming more possible.

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