Artemis space launch delayed

The Artemis project’s inital flight is delayed due to hydrogen leak.

The Artemis I launch was expected to happen early last week on Monday, August 29th, but was called off due to an unexpected hydrogen leak in one of the valves. At present, the cause of the leak is not entirely understood, and NASA is not quick to launch this iteration of the project when it could potentially waste billions of dollars.

Originally, the new attempt at the launch was going to take place on Saturday, September 3, but NASA once again called it off. They have invested over $40 billion into this craft, with the production of the capsule, called Orion, and the rocket, called the Space Launch system.

Having two scrubbed launches, while not ideal, is a lot lower cost than if the rocket were launched and then failed in the air. It is imperative this early mission goes smoothly so that the later missions are successful.

The end goal of the Artemis project is to establish a long-term human presence on the moon and also send a manned mission to Mars. In total, the Artemis project is expected to cost over $91 billion. The Artemis project is named so in reference to Apollo’s twin sister, the goddess of the moon as a callback to the first manned space missions to the moon in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Artemis I is an unmanned test flight to ensure the new and improved technology that has been developed for moon landings since the Apollo missions is functional and safe for people to enter space and return home. NASA wants to test the heat shields to ensure they are able to exit and reenter Earth’s atmosphere and still hold the shuttle together.

Artemis II will be a manned mission. It is presently scheduled for May of 2024 and will last 10 days before the astronauts return home. It will do a lunar flyby of one and a half laps before redirecting and returning to earth.

Artemis III is when people will be landing on the moon and was originally tentatively scheduled for 2024, but after the scrubbed Artemis I launch it has a new launch date of 2025. Two of the astronauts will be sent to the moon’s south pole while two remain in orbit in the Orion capsule to land at a different area of the moon’s surface to be determined by NASA. This crew will stay on the moon for nearly seven days, almost twice what the manned Apollo missions did during their longest mission. They will conduct research on the frozen water and the hydrogen deposits that are approximately three feet below the lunar surface.

The Mars explorations will not take place for many more years. NASA has hopes of sending people to Mars in the late 2030s or early 2040s, but the ultimate launch date is very dependent on these early missions going smoothly.

Because Mars is so much further than the moon is from Earth, nearly a 500 day round trip, the conditions of the planet’s orbits have to align and then NASA has to be ready to launch the rocket. This will be a marathon, not a sprint, and it will be many, many years before the Artemis project is completed.

Post Author: Erika Brock