After years of delay, NASA has revealed the first tentative dates for takeoff of the Artemis 1 mission, a flight with which the agency seeks to start the process for the return of humanity to the Moon.
During a teleconference, NASA announced that at the moment work is being done to carry out the takeoff of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft August 29thalthough there are also secondary dates scheduled for September 2 and 5.
The Agency has clarified that this is the first launch window, so these dates are not definitive and could be modified depending on the works and corrections that must be carried out on the vehicles, after the wet test has been completed.
Three opportunities, different durations
Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA, commented that the dates depend on pending work and if the weather is favorable, where each of the windows would allow a “long” mission to be carried out.
If the launch takes place on August 29the two-hour window will open at 7:33 am Mexico time and the trip would last 42 days, landing on October 10.
If will take off on September 2the two-hour window would also start at 11:48 am, where the mission would extend for 39 days, re-entering on October 11.
If it were traveled until September 5the window of only 90 minutes would be from 4:12 pm, with a duration of 42 days, where the splashdown would take place on October 17.
If the takeoff does not take place, we will have to continue waiting
In addition to giving details about the dates, Free also noted that the actual date of the flight will be confirmed about a week before releaseso we will have to wait until mid-August to obtain more information.
In case none of the windows are used, the rocket will have to return back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to maintain the Flight Termination System (FTS), so the next opportunity (between September 19 and October 4) will possibly be discarded.
This would mean that the next launch window It would be between October 17 and 31, because the FTS operates independently with its own battery (of limited useful life), so it must be ensured that it works correctly at each takeoff opportunity.