HomeWorld NewsNASA Aims for Early Wednesday in Moon Rocket's Third Launch Attempt

NASA Aims for Early Wednesday in Moon Rocket’s Third Launch Attempt

NASA will attempt early Wednesday to launch the rocket that will one day send Americans back to the moon after a series of delays pushed the test back several months.

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket along with its Orion crew capsule has a two-hour launch window beginning at 1:04 am Wednesday. The crew capsule, which will hold mannequins instead of astronauts for the test, will spend a couple weeks orbiting the moon before heading back to Earth for a splashdown in the Pacific in December.

It will be the agency’s third attempt at launching the rocket and crew capsule after it scrubbed attempts on Aug. 29 and Sept. 3 due to technical issues that cropped up during the fueling process. Launch attempts were further delayed after Hurricane Ian forced NASA to move the rocket from the launch pad to its assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Managers of the mission on Monday deemed the launch a “go” after assessing minor damage sustained from Hurricane Nicole, including a tear of the protective sealant on Orion’s exterior.

“The mission management team determined there is a low likelihood that if additional material tears off it would pose a critical risk to the flight,” NASA said in a statement.

Weather forecasts as of Monday put the conditions at 90% favorable for Wednesday’s two-hour launch window.

The mission, called Artemis I, is the “first in a series of increasingly complex missions to build a long-term human presence on the moon for decades to come,” according to NASA. Artemis II aims to take a crew around the moon no earlier than 2024, and Artemis III will land the first woman and person of color on the moon. One of the goals of the Artemis program is to learn how to live on the moon so that the US can safely send people to Mars.

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