The idiom, “third time’s a charm”, usually is said when you try an activity on the third time and hope it will be successful. For the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) however, “fourth time’s a charm” might be better fitting for their Artemis launch. The first Artemis launch got postponed three times since its original launch date, August 29, 2022,, the second was because of a hydrogen leak, and the third delay was because of Hurricane Ian making its way across Florida.
The Artemis I mission will be the first launch out of three, but this one will only test the rocket and other technologies that will be going to the moon. This first launch is crucial to the two that follow because if it goes wrong in any way, the NASA scientists and engineers working on the Artemis program will be able to fix and possibly replace anything they need to. Since, in the future, on top of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will sit the Orion capsule, which will hold the astronauts going into space and eventually to the moon. Additionally, there are about 560 cables in the core stage, 231 of which are in the section where the engine is. Which, just in the engine, is about 18 miles of cables. Along with cables and engines, there are 775 sensors that all have independent wiring. According to NASA, “The flight computer uses the same class microprocessor as the original Macintosh PowerBook G3.” Which is not too modern, but combined with all the other technology, it is less of an obstacle.
The SLS rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world, which makes sense for the amount of technology it has. The sensors, cables, and computers said above, are not even half of the technology this rocket has. Aside from the core stage, it is also taking four humans in a capsule 40,000 miles farther than ever before. Which means it needs the technology and engineering for that to happen in 30 seconds. The Orion spacecraft is the only spacecraft sustainable for human deep space exploration and the high-speed return from the Moon. According to NASA, Orion has food, water, oxygen, and temperature control, additionally, in case anything goes wrong it has a launch abort system. Similar to the core stage, there are a lot of parts and pieces of the Orion Spacecraft, about 77,000 different types of parts. The Launch Abort System (LAS) has two parts on Orion, the fairing assembly and the launch abort tower. According to NASA, “(…) the LAS can outrun even the SLS rocket, which generates 8.8 million pounds of thrust.” That is because if they need to abort because of an engine problem, they can get away or return to Earth before anything is unfixable.
Although, NASA scientists said that there is a 1-in-890 probability of a catastrophe during the entry, descent, and landing. So stay tuned to NASA’s YouTube channel, website, and app to get more updates and watch the livestream of the launch on November 14, 2022.