After two failed attempts, NASA has set a September 27 launch date for its Artemis 1 mission. The space agency is also exploring possible options for an alternate launch window on Oct. 2. On September 27th, the launch window opens at 11:37AM ET (9:07PM EST).
NASA plans to conduct a cryogenic demonstration test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft no earlier than September 21, ahead of their first launch. The update was selected after the space agency took into account the complex logistics of the mission, including the added value of having more time to prepare for cryogenic demonstration tests.
An alternate launch window of October 2 is currently under review as NASA and SpaceX plan to launch the Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station on October 3. The space agency and Elon Musk’s private space company review milestones before launch so the mission can observe potential impacts.
The mission’s second launch attempt had to be aborted due to a hydrogen leak. The Artemis I team completed repairs to the leak over the weekend and reconnected the liquid hydrogen fuel supply. Next, they will test in ambient conditions, first ensuring that there is a strong connection between the two plates of the feeder, and then in low temperature conditions.
During the demonstration, the launch controller will load liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the SLS’s core stage and cryogenic intermediate propulsion stage (ICPS). The engineering team will evaluate the demonstration to confirm that the hydrogen leak has been fixed. They will also evaluate updated propellant loading procedures developed to reduce thermal and pressure loads on the system.
However, NASA’s Range Flight Safety Program is processing the space agency’s request to expand the current flight termination system (FTS) testing requirements. NASA’s tentative September 27 launch date is contingent on plans to approve the request. If the request is not accepted, the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft may need to be transported back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for testing and maintenance.