(ORDO NEWS) — The 98-meter booster is the most powerful ever built by NASA. She’s ready to send an empty crew capsule into orbit around the moon, 50 years after the end of NASA’s Apollo program, which landed 12 astronauts on the moon.
If this six-week test flight is successful, astronauts could return to the Moon in just a few years. However, NASA officials warn that the risk is high and the flight could be aborted.
Instead of astronauts, the Orion capsule has 3 test dummies to measure acceleration and radiation, one of the biggest dangers to humans in deep space. There are more than 1000 sensors in one capsule alone.
On Sunday, officials said neither the rocket nor the capsule was hit during Saturday’s thunderstorm. Ground equipment was also not damaged. Five lightning strikes hit 183-meter lightning rods surrounding the rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
More storms were expected. Although forecasts gave an 80% chance of acceptable weather on Monday morning, conditions should worsen during the two-hour launch window.
On the technical side, the team has done everything possible over the past few months to fix fuel leaks. Several tests earlier this year resulted in repairs to leaking valves and other equipment.
However, engineers learn about the presence of malfunctions in the repaired equipment only a few hours before the scheduled launch. If the launch fails today, the next attempt will be on Friday.
After so many years of delays and setbacks, the launch team was thrilled to be so close to starting the Artemis lunar exploration program, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.
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