Artemis I, NASA’s uncrewed mission that will set the stage for returning humans to the Moon after several decades, is unlikely to be launched before summer this year. The rundown to the actual launch of the ambitious mission has been changed several times so far as the team behind it was not ready with all the preparations. The final pre-launch test was initially scheduled for February 2022 but was then pushed back to March. NASA officials have now said that an April launch was no longer possible, and they were looking at a launch window in May.
But that may also be difficult to achieve. After the dress rehearsal is completed, a lot of data will be required to be analysed. If an issue is found, it would need to be addressed before the actual date is locked.
“We continue to evaluate the May window, but we’re also recognising that there’s a lot of work in front of us,” Space.com quoted Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development at NASA, as saying at a virtual news conference.
The report also stated that the “wet dress rehearsal” will take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US, on March 17. NASA will test the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built, for the Artemis mission. The SLS will be topped by the Orion spacecraft.
Artemis I was originally scheduled to launch in November 2021. NASA then announced that it would target a mid-February launch, but had provided two additional launch opportunities as well — March 12-27 and April 8-23.
The Artemis missions will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon’s surface, laying the groundwork for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone to sending astronauts to Mars for the first time.