NASA’s big, new moon rocket launches on its way to launch tests – SABC News

NASA’s next-generation lunar missile on Thursday began a much-anticipated slow-motion journey from its assembly plant en route to the launch site in Florida for a final round of tests in the coming weeks that will determine how fast the spacecraft can fly .

The launch of the 32-story High Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion crew capsule marks a major milestone in U.S. plans for renewed lunar reconnaissance after years of adversity, and the first glimpse of the public of a space car more than a decades in development.

The process of moving the 5.75 million-pound SLS-Orion spacecraft from its Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building began shortly after 5:30 pm EDT (2130 GMT) under clear skies at Cape Canaveral. An almost full moon came up about 90 minutes later.

The SLS-Orion, which cost about $ 37 billion to develop including ground systems, forms the backbone of NASA’s Artemis program, aimed at bringing astronauts back to the moon and establishing a long-term lunar colony as a precursor to ultimate human exploration of Mars.

The mega rocket, which stood higher than the Statue of Liberty, was slowly driven to Launch Pad 39B on top of an enormous tractor-crawler about the size of a baseball diamond, crawling at less than a mile per hour on a 4-mile (6.5- km) the trip was expected to take about 11 hours. The crawler is operated by a crew of 25 men.

The show aired live on NASA Television and the space agency’s website. A band from the University of Central Florida played the National Anthem when the rally began for people from staff and other spectators gathered outside to watch the event.

“Girls and gentlemen, the most powerful rocket in the world, right here,” NASA chief Bill Nelson told the audience, sending them to the spaceship minutes after the launch began. “Mankind will soon begin a new era of exploration.”

Among the people in the crowd was former astronaut Tom Stafford, who ran around the moon as commander of Apollo 10 in 1969, NASA said in its webcast.

The crash, which paved the way for NASA’s unmanned Artemis I mission back and forth last month, was delayed last month by a series of technical obstacles the space agency said it had since resolved when teams rocket ready for launch site.

Dress rehearsal for launch

Once secured along the way, the SLS-Orion ship will be prepared for a critical pre-flight test called a “wet dress rehearsal”, which will begin on April 3 and take about two days to complete.

Engineers plan to fully charge the SLS nuclear fuel tanks with supercooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen driving and perform a simulated launch countdown – stop seconds before the rocket’s four R-25 engines emerge – in an evaluation of top to bottom whole system.

The outcome will determine when NASA will attempt its first launch of the rocket and capsule combination, a mission designated Artemis I.

The US Apollo program sent six manned missions to the moon from 1969 to 1972, the only manned spaceflight still reaching the lunar plane. Artemis, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, tries to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, among others.

But NASA has several steps to take before it gets there, starting with a successful Artemis I flight, planned as an unmanned trip 40,000 miles (64,374 km) past the moon and back.

The Orion capsule will carry a simulated crew of three – a male mannequin named “Commander Moonikin Campos,” in honor of the late NASA engineer Arturo Campos, who played a key role in bringing Apollo 13 back to earth after an accident in flight, and two female mannequins. All will be equipped with sensors to measure radiation levels.

NASA has said it is considering possible Artemis I launch windows in April and May, but the timeline could slip depending on the results of the dress rehearsal.

Eight or nine days after those tests are completed and the propellant is drained from the rocket, the ship will be rolled back to the assembly building to wait for a launch date to be set.

NASA announced in November that it intends to make its first human lunar landing of Artemis as early as 2025, preceded by a manned Artemis flight around the moon and back in 2024.

Both of these missions, and others to follow, will be flown into space by the SLS, which surpasses the Apollo era Saturn V as the world’s largest, most powerful launch vehicle, and the first exploration class rocket built by NASA for human spaceflight since Saturn V.

Nelson also called Artemis an “economic engine” that generated $ 14 billion in trade in 2019 alone and supported 70,000 U.S. jobs.

NASA’s big, new moon rocket launches on its way to launch tests – SABC News

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