It’s not easy to get to the moon. However, with the uncrewed Artemis I mission launch, NASA hopes to begin a new age of moon exploration in earnest. Still, a technical snag means takeoff will have to wait a bit longer.
NASA had planned to launch the spacecraft in February 2022 but is currently considering options in March and April. The colossal Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule are ready to launch. Still, testing found a problem with one of the rocket’s engines’ flight controller.
“The flight controller serves as the RS-25 engine’s ‘brain,’ connecting with the SLS rocket to provide precision engine management as well as internal health diagnostics,” NASA said in a statement on Friday. However, one of the controller’s two channels was not regularly turning on.
Although the controller had performed well in previous tests, NASA chose to replace it totally while studying the source of the malfunction. NASA continues to test and prepare the rocket system and capsule, which will culminate in a “wet” dress rehearsal that will include fuel loading. After a successful trial, the agency will set a definite launch date.
Artemis I will take a trip around the moon to make sure everything works with SLS and Orion before sending humans into space in the Artemis II mission. It’s hardly surprising that there has been a delay. It’s difficult enough to get into space at all. With a new spacecraft and a new rocket system, it claims will be the most powerful in the world, NASA wants to get it right.
SLS promises to be fantastic when it finally takes off. Check out this stunning SLS engine test from earlier in 2021 for a sneak preview of what to anticipate.