news hardware Voyage to the moon: a first failure for NASA
The SLS, the new giant rocket that NASA is predestining for its next trips to the moon, is back in the garage. The first tests in Florida proved to be a failure.
The Space Launch System or SLS is quite simply the most powerful rocket ever built. It was designed by NASA in collaboration with international companies to send astronauts to the moon from 2024. It had been a few days since the giant rocket had been installed on a launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center site in Florida. The goal: to conduct a series of tests to determine the reliability of the SLS. And they weren’t conclusive.
Disrupted test phases
Before he thinks about sending his rocket to the moon, NASA must finally simulate the various phases that will lead SLS to final launch. The tests start with the fuel supply and continue normally until the last countdown without the engines running.
On April 12th and 14th, NASA tested the arrival of liquid fuel in the rocket, a crucial step for the launch of the imposing device. Just, The space agency encountered many problems : Leak in the refueling compartments at the base of the unit, defective valve on the first floor, etc. dwhich makes smooth operation impossible and above all prevent the transition to the next test phase.
“As with any new launch system, we discover this type of problem when we start testing.” commented a NASA spokesman on Monday, April 18th. He added “The vehicle itself works very well, but it is very complicated to operate. »
Back to the garage for SLS
If these initial tests sound like a failure for NASA, that’s because The Space Launch System now needs to be disassembled to reach warehouses to make the necessary repairs and adjustments. Because the imposing size of the 100 meter high and 2700 ton rocket prevents such maintenance work directly on the launch pad.
As a result, it will take NASA about a week to prep the rocket, then roll it into their massive garage where it is located it will remain for repairs throughout the month of May.
Objective Moon in 2024, is that still possible?
According to the NASA plan The Artemis 1 mission, which will send the vacuum rocket into space for the first time to orbit the moon, is scheduled to take place next summer. But this unscheduled maintenance risks delaying it, which is not good news since it has already been postponed several times: the original agenda mentioned the end of 2021 at the beginning.
Which led to a postponement of the entire program : Artemis 2, the first manned flight of the SLS, is planned for 2024. Not only could that change if the Artemis 1 mission launches later, but it’s all contingent on the rest of the test going ahead with phases going smoothly. What NASA has been working on intensively for a while especially since the moon is only the first stage of this massive project, which is actually aimed at Mars. So the stakes are incredibly high.
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