Orion on Its Way to the Moon

The interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) completed its approximately 18-minute trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn and the spacecraft has separated from the stage. Orion fired its auxiliary thrusters to move a safe distance away from the expended stage and the spacecraft is on its way to the Moon.

NASA will hold a postlaunch news conference at 5 a.m. EST today from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Participants are:

    • Bill Nelson, NASA administrator
    • Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters
    • Mike Bolger, Exploration Ground Systems Program manager, Kennedy
    • John Honeycutt, Space Launch System Program manager, Marshall
    • Howard Hu, Orion Program manager, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
    • Emily Nelson, chief flight director, Johnson

Artemis I Liftoff

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, carrying the uncrewed Orion spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39B in Florida at 1:47 a.m. EST.

The primary goal of Artemis I is to thoroughly test the integrated systems before crewed missions by operating the spacecraft in a deep space environment, testing Orion’s heat shield, and recovering the crew module after reentry, descent, and splashdown.

 Below are the ascent milestones that will occur over the next two hours. Times may vary by several seconds.

  • Solid rocket booster separation (Mission Elapsed Time 00:02:12)
  • Service module fairing jettison (MET 00:03:11)
  • Launch abort system jettison (MET 00:03:16)
  • Core stage main engine cutoff commanded (MET 00:08:03)
  • Core stage/ICPS separation (MET 00:08:15)
  • Orion solar array wing deploy begins (MET 00:18:09) – approx. 12 min duration
  • Perigee raise maneuver (MET 00:52:56)
  • Trans-lunar injection (MET 01:29:27)
  • Orion/ICPS separation (MET 01:57:36)

NASA to Stand Down on Artemis I Launch Attempts in Early September, Reviewing Options

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B Sept. 2, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Artemis I flight test is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and supporting ground systems. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

After standing down on today’s Artemis I launch attempt when engineers could not overcome a hydrogen leak in a quick disconnect, an interface between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, mission managers met and decided they will forego additional launch attempts in early September.

Over the next several days, teams will establish access to the area of the leak at Launch Pad 39B, and in parallel conduct a schedule assessment to provide additional data that will inform a decision on whether to perform work to replace a seal either at the pad, where it can be tested under cryogenic conditions, or inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.

To meet the requirement by the Eastern Range for the certification on the flight termination system, currently set at 25 days, NASA will need to roll the rocket and spacecraft back to the VAB before the next launch attempt to reset the system’s batteries. The flight termination system is required on all rockets to protect public safety.

During today’s launch attempt, engineers saw a leak in a cavity between the ground side and rocket side plates surrounding an 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the SLS rocket. Three attempts at reseating the seal were unsuccessful. While in an early phase of hydrogen loading operations called chilldown, when launch controllers cool down the lines and propulsion system prior to flowing super cold liquid hydrogen into the rocket’s tank at minus 423 degrees F, an inadvertent command was sent that temporarily raised the pressure in the system. While the rocket remained safe and it is too early to tell whether the bump in pressurization contributed to the cause of the leaky seal, engineers are examining the issue.

Because of the complex orbital mechanics involved in launching to the Moon, NASA would have had to launch Artemis I by Tuesday, Sept. 6 as part of the current launch period. View a list of launch windows here.