After failing to pass the Artemis 1 wet rehearsal, the largest rocket ever built will be returning next week to the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building in Florida. The 111-meter rocket had to refuel, practice the countdown, and empty the tanks during the tests. NASA had to suspend the tests due to failures in propellant filling.
On March 18, the Orion capsule and launcher were moved to platform 39B at Cape Canaveral. This was to conduct final tests before the launch of US's first lunar mission. Artemisa 1 will mark the beginning of the Space Launch System (SLS), which consists of a rocket, two thrusters, and an Orion capsule that can hold four astronauts. The unmanned flight, which was delayed many times, was finally scheduled for mid-June.
"The lunar megarocket continues its performance. We have yet to see any real problems with the valve. The rocket is a great achievement. However, we still have some work to do," NASA deputy administrator Tom Whitmeyer said at a news conference. After the launcher is fine-tuned, a wet rehearsal will take place. The final touches will then be put in before take-off. They recognize that Artemis 1 will not be launched by mid-June, and that it may be challenging. However, they believe that if there aren't any more failures, it might launch in July.
The Orion capsule will be empty during the first mission. It will orbit the satellite, and reach a distance of approximately 100 km. Artemis 2, an already-manned flight, will be conducted in May 2024. It will include four astronauts who will orbit the Moon. NASA forecasts that the first woman to walk on Earth's satellite in 2025 will be the first. Experts have acknowledged this and placed the new moon landings for the second half this decade.
Paul Martin, NASA's inspector General, recently revealed that the estimated cost of each mission within the Artemis program could be 4,100 million dollars. This is more than twice what was originally estimated.