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NASA is planning to launch the Space Launch System early next year!

NASA

NASA is planning to launch the Space Launch System (mega-rocket) early next year. The behemoth moon rocket is months behind schedule but could now potentially fly in February. As per NASA officials, the final tests go well then February 12 next year will be the date. For its uncrewed Artemis 1 mission around the moon, that’s when the 1st launch window opens.

NASA is developing the Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket to take astronauts to the Moon, Mars and other distant destinations as part of the agency’s Artemis Program. As early as 2024, this aims to send astronauts back to the moon. The purpose is to establish a long-term, sustainable human presence on and around Earth’s nearest neighbour.

It’s composed of two major components: the SLS rocket and Orion new capsule. Together the duo will fly the Artemis lunar program. This is a part of an uncrewed flight around the moon. According to NASA scientists, in late December for testing the now-stacked rocket and crew capsule will roll out to their LaunchPad 39B. In January, there will be fueling exercise. They will go back to the VAB after the January exercise for more checkouts and then roll back out to the pad one more time.

Artemis 1 is the 1st step to land the 1st person of colour and the 1st woman on the moon. Different NASA centres engineers across the country have helped in the development of the SLS. The bulk of the rocket’s hardware was tested and assembled in NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. The four main engines and core stage were fired up twice this year as a part of a hot-fire test. The test was meant to check whether the rocket’s components were working correctly.

In one engine’s hydraulic system, there was an anomaly that caused the early shutdown. The SLS was transported to High Bay 3 once it arrived in Florida inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. Over there, engineers have been working on assembling the rockets different systems. The SLS will roll back to its launch pad in early January for its final major test before launch. The launch team will load the vehicle’s cryogenic fuel into both the upper and core stages. All the way up to liftoff, the teams will run through launch day procedures. To await the launch date, the rocket will then be moved back to its massive hangar.

A big challenge for NASA if that launch target remains fixed will be to roll pad six days before its planned liftoff on February 12 of SLS. There is a 21-minute launch window for NASA that day. Depending on trajectory analysis, the launch windows could be adjusted by a minute or two on the launch day. From February 12 to 27, the 1st launch period runs. The primary purpose of the Artemis 1 mission is to put the launcher-capsule system through its paces ahead of the first-planned crew launch, Artemis 2 and its second flight.

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