NASA moving ahead with Nov. 16 Artemis 1 launch attempt

WASHINGTON — NASA is transferring forward with the following Artemis 1 launch try on Nov. 16 after discovering no main repairs required to the House Launch System and Orion from Hurricane Nicole.

In a name with reporters Nov. 11, Jim Free, NASA affiliate administrator for exploration programs growth, stated technicians had been engaged on minor points brought on by the storm’s passage a day earlier however nothing that might not be repaired in time for the present projected launch date of Nov. 16 throughout a two-hour window that opens at 1:04 a.m. Jap.

“Proper now, there’s nothing stopping us from attending to the sixteenth,” he stated. “We do have some work to do.”

That work, he stated, contains reducing away some unfastened caulk, referred to as RTV, on the Orion launch abort system that isn’t wanted for flight. A rain cowl in a single SLS engine was torn and is being mounted, whereas water that pooled within the crew entry arm was eliminated. An umbilical main from the launch tower to Orion got here off a tray and was changed.

He added {that a} tail service mast unit that feeds liquid hydrogen into the SLS had {an electrical} umbilical that had “some erratic indicators,” that was being inspected. That wiring harness might be changed if required.

Free spent a lot of the decision explaining, and defending, the company’s choice to go away the SLS on the pad. He stated there was a prolonged dialogue concerning the forecast earlier than deciding to roll out to the pad Nov. 4. “There have been of us actually pondering it arduous” about rolling out, he recalled. “Ultimately, everybody agreed that we should always roll out.”

By the point forecasts confirmed the storm had strengthened, it was too late to roll again to the Automobile Meeting Constructing (VAB). In discussions Nov. 6, he stated, the earliest the automobile might roll again was late Nov. 8. “The wind speeds then had been predicted to be 35 knots [65 km/h] sustained gusting as much as 40 [74 km/h],” he stated, elevating issues about hundreds on the automobile because it moved again to the VAB. “With the danger of transferring with the excessive winds we determined to remain on the pad.”

The winds finally stayed slightly below the certification limits for the SLS. On the 18-meter stage, NASA reported a peak simply of 132 kilometers per hour, slightly below the rated restrict of 137 kilometers per hour.

Free stated NASA additionally measured the winds at different ranges of the pad, together with the highest of the lightning towers, 140 meters excessive. “In the course of the hurricane, all of the measurements taken confirmed no breaking of these limits,” he stated.

Free declined to present the wind limits at different ranges of the automobile, citing issues related to the Worldwide Visitors in Arms Laws (ITAR), one class of export controls. “It’s how we do the calculations and on the design of the automobile,” he argued. “You’ll be able to convey a few of that collectively and draw some conclusions that will violate that.”

Nevertheless, NASA has beforehand revealed wind limits for the SLS, notably in an October 2021 document available on a NASA website with a discover that it’s “permitted for public launch; distribution is limitless.” That exhibits wind limits growing with peak on the pad, topping out on the 150-meter stage at 172 kilometers per hour. The highest wind gust reported in the course of the storm was roughly 160 kilometers per hour at an altitude of 142 meters

The wind limits, he added, had been conservative. “It’s 75% of what we are able to take, which suggests we’ve one other 25% of margin on prime of that earlier than we even get into our 1.4 issue of security,” he stated. “From our perspective, we stayed inside our certification on the wind that we noticed in the course of the hurricane.”

He acknowledged that NASA possible would have saved the SLS within the VAB had it recognized earlier than the Nov. 4 rollout how Hurricane Nicole would develop. “If we knew on the night time earlier than we had been rolling out that it was going to be a hurricane, we most likely would have stayed within the VAB.”

Preserving the automobile on the pad, although, preserves the Nov. 16 launch try in addition to a backup date on Nov. 19. Free stated NASA had additionally secured an extra launch date of Nov. 25, the final one accessible within the present launch interval, from the Federal Aviation Administration.

He stated that he was not nervous about having SLS on the pad in the course of the storm, at the least no more than he does on the whole concerning the automobile forward of its first launch. “I fear about this rocket if it had been brilliant and sunny on a regular basis as a result of that is our first one, and our flight take a look at has completely important aims which are going to be tough to attain,” he stated. “So, I’m going to fret about this rocket till we see that [Orion] capsule safely again within the effectively deck of the Navy ship.”

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