China News Service, August 29th, a comprehensive report, the plan failed to keep up with the changes, and the launch plan of a new generation of US moon landing rockets was forced to be postponed.
The US “Space Launch System” heavy rocket was originally planned to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 29, local time, carrying the “Orion” spacecraft to perform the “Artemis 1” unmanned flight test mission around the moon. This is believed to be the first step in launching the U.S. plan to return to the moon.
However, after being plagued by thunderstorms, fuel leaks and other problems occurred on the day of the rocket launch, and the launch plan had to be canceled. Coupled with the financial problems in recent years, the new crown epidemic and other factors, can the United States still complete its “timetable” for returning to the moon?
fuel leak problem
U.S. moon landing rocket launch delayed
The “Space Launch System” heavy rocket was originally scheduled to ignite on August 29, local time. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) specially broadcast the whole process live on its official website, which attracted the attention of the outside world.
But the countdown to launch stopped at the final about 40 minutes. CNN said that since the start of the refueling operation, several technical glitches have been discovered and engineers have had to make emergency fixes.
The Associated Press also said the fuel leak forced NASA to cancel the launch. It is worth noting that during the test this spring, the rocket had a leak failure, and this leak is said to be the same place this spring. NASA had done “extensive repair work” on it at the time, but during tests in June, there was still a fuel leak.
For the past few months, the team has been working to overcome technical problems with the fuel leak, said NASA senior test director Jeffs Poulding.
It was previously reported that the launch could be delayed to September 2 or 5 if the August 29 window is missed.
On August 28, local time, the US new-generation lunar rocket “Space Launch System” was erected at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. According to reports, 48 hours after the countdown to launch, the lightning protection device of the 39B launch pad where the “Space Launch System” is located was struck by lightning three times. The device includes three lightning towers and wires about 182 meters high to protect the rocket and the spacecraft it carries.
On August 28, local time, the US new-generation lunar rocket “Space Launch System” was erected at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. According to reports, 48 hours after the countdown to launch, the lightning protection device of the 39B launch pad where the “Space Launch System” is located was struck by lightning many times.
ups and downs
Rocket launch pad has been repeatedly struck by lightning
The 98-meter-tall “Space Launch System” is considered the “most powerful rocket” NASA has ever built. As planned, it will send a capsule carrying three mannequins into lunar orbit half a century after the Apollo program sent 12 astronauts to the moon. The models are equipped with sensors that collect a variety of data, including radiation levels, to inform future manned flights.
The mission’s primary goal also includes testing the durability of the Orion spacecraft’s heat shield. Additionally, NASA is expected to test critical systems in the deep space environment, particularly crew life support systems and navigation systems.
The US Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) pointed out that although it will not carry astronauts and will not land on the moon, the mission is critical to proving the performance of NASA’s heavy rockets and deep space vehicles, representing its return to the moon plan. key turning point.
However, since this year, the U.S. lunar rocket launch plan has experienced twists and turns.
Just a few days before the launch, on the afternoon of August 27, due to thunderstorms, the lightning protection device of launch pad 39B where the “Space Launch System” is located was struck by lightning many times. The lightning protection device includes three lightning protection towers and wires about 182 meters high to protect the rocket and the spacecraft it carries.
In early April, there were four lightning strikes near the launch pad due to bad weather. According to NASA officials, the first three lightning strikes were relatively low-power events, but the fourth hit the “Tower 1” of the lightning protection system with relatively high power.
On April 14, NASA also had to delay the ignition test of the Space Launch System again due to a fuel leak from the mobile launcher.
Can the U.S. still return to the moon in 2025?
The analysis said that due to multiple factors such as insufficient budget, technical failures, legal disputes and the new crown epidemic, the US plan to return to the moon has been forced to postpone many times in recent years.
According to reports, the goal of the US “Artemis” program is to send astronauts to the moon and back, and to establish a normalized residency mechanism to pave the way for future manned landing missions on Mars. The name of the program is taken from the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology, corresponding to the realization of the project’s vision of “the first female astronaut to land on the moon”.
Among them, “Artemis 1” is the first step in the US plan to return to the moon. If the mission is successful, NASA expects to launch the “Artemis 2” manned lunar orbital mission as early as 2024, and finally the “Artemis 3” lunar landing mission, which will be the first time Send women and people of color to the moon.
Earlier reports said the U.S. government had planned to send astronauts to the moon again by 2024. But in 2021, NASA announced it was delaying its second manned lunar landing until 2025.
At the time, the head of NASA explained that the U.S. Congress did not provide enough money to develop a landing system for the Artemis program, and the Orion capsule needed more money. The inspector general of NASA even bluntly stated that the research and development technology required for the moon landing cannot be ready before 2026 at the earliest.
At the same time, project costs have continued to soar. According to Reuters, so far, the “Space Launch System” and “Orion” spacecraft related projects have spent at least 37 billion US dollars, including design, construction, testing and ground facilities.
CNBC’s statistics show that U.S. officials have estimated that the development cost of the “Space Launch System” rocket is about $6 billion, and each launch costs $500 million. But in fact it has cost more than 20 billion US dollars, and the cost per launch has risen to 4.1 billion US dollars.
In this regard, Garver, the former deputy administrator of NASA, recently admitted that even with repeated delays and additional budgets, it is still doubtful whether American astronauts can land on the moon in 2025.
As part of the “Artemis” program, many American media originally expected that this rocket launch mission would kick off the United States’ return to the moon. Now, with the launch delayed, can the United States still meet its “timetable” for the moon landing?
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