Approaching storm may delay launch try for NASA moon rocket | Tech News

Approaching storm may delay launch try for NASA moon rocket

A tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is moving toward Florida and could become a major hurricane.

By:AP
| Updated on: Sep 24 2022, 21:52 IST
NASA DART Mission in pics: Amazing Attack on Asteroid!
NASA Moon rocket
1/6 NASA with its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission spacecraft is all set to collide with a non-hazardous asteroid called Dimorphos in order to test planetary defence on Monday, September 26. The learnings from this asteroid attack will be used to protect Earth from asteroids that are heading for a collision with our planet. According to NASA, this will be the world's first mission to deflect an asteroid in space. NASA’s DART, built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, will demonstrate and test asteroid deflection by kinetic impactor. (Bloomberg)
NASA Moon rocket
2/6 Dimorphos, the asteroid moonlet of Didymos poses no threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft had recently got its first look at Didymos, the double-asteroid system that includes its target, Dimorphos. It is being said that in 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will send a space probe to Dimorphos as part of the space mission HERA. The aim of the mission is to visually investigate the aftermath of the DART probe impact. (NASA )
NASA Moon rocket
3/6 When to watch: The live broadcast of the event will start on September 26 at 6 p.m., EDT. The spacecraft will impact its target asteroid at 7:14 p.m. EDT, while at 8:00 p.m. ET, the research organisation will host a post-impact press briefing. (AFP)
NASA Moon rocket
4/6 Where to watch: The historic collision can be watched live online as NASA will be broadcasting the same. NASA will broadcast the live coverage of DART’s impact with the asteroid Dimorphos on NASA TV and its several social media handles like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. (AFP)
NASA Moon rocket
5/6 About asteroids: According to NASA, More than 100 tons of dust and sand sized particles are bombarded towards Earth everyday. While, about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface. Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area. Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences. (AP)
NASA Moon rocket
6/6 Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage. By comparison, asteroids that populate the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and pose no threat to Earth, can be as big as 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. (MINT_PRINT)
NASA Moon rocket
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Teams will keep monitoring the forecast and decide no later than Saturday whether to not only delay the test flight.  (AP)

An approaching storm threatens to delay NASA's next launch attempt for its new moon rocket, already grounded for weeks by fuel leaks. A tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is moving toward Florida and could become a major hurricane.

Managers on Friday declared that the rocket is now ready to blast off on its first test flight, after overcoming more hydrogen leaks during a fueling test earlier in the week. It will be the first time a crew capsule orbits the moon in 50 years; the spacecraft will carry mannequins but no astronauts.

Teams will keep monitoring the forecast and decide no later than Saturday whether to not only delay the test flight, but haul the rocket off the pad and back to the hangar. It's unclear when the next launch attempt would be — whether October or even November — if the rocket must seek shelter indoors.

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The preference is to remain at the launch pad and try for a Tuesday liftoff, “but there are still some uncertainties in the forecast,” said NASA's Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems.

It takes three days of preparations to get the rocket back into Kennedy Space Center's mammoth Vehicle Assembly Building, a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) trip lasting several hours.

"I don't think we're cutting it close," Whitmeyer told reporters. “We're just taking it a step at a time.”

The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket can withstand gusts of 85 mph (137 kph) at the pad, but only 46 mph (74 kph) once it's on the move.

This would be the third launch attempt for the Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA. Fuel leaks and other technical problems scrapped the first two tries, in late August and early September.

Although hydrogen fuel seeped past newly installed seals during Wednesday's dress rehearsal, the launch team got the leakage down to acceptable levels by slowing the flow and reducing the pressure in the lines. That gave the launch team the confidence to proceed with a Tuesday launch attempt, officials said.

Managers said that the 30-year space shuttle program also saw plenty of hydrogen fuel leaks and hurricane-related rollbacks. The moon rocket's main engines are actually upgraded versions of what flew on shuttles.

Also, the Space Force has extended the certification of on-board batteries that are part of the flight safety system — at least through the beginning of October.

NASA has just two chances to launch the rocket — Tuesday and Oct. 2 — before a two-week blackout period begins. The next launch period would open Oct. 17.

Astronauts would climb aboard for the second test flight around the moon in 2024. The third mission, targeted for 2025, would see a pair of astronauts landing on the moon.

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First Published Date: 24 Sep, 21:52 IST
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