For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The countdown clock is ticking for the nighttime liftoff of NASA’s $4.1 Billion Artemis 1 Moon rocket just past midnight on Wed. Nov. 16 from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Center in Florida on an uncrewed lunar test flight around the Moon and back – after NASA managers cleared the remaining pair of technical issues less than a week after landfall of the monster Category 1 Hurricane Nicole on Florida’s East Coast overnight Thursday, Nov. 10 which exposed the vehicle to fierce hurricane force winds for several hours.
The 322 foot tall Artemis 1 stack is GO for launch on the first ever try at a nighttime launch attempt that was rescheduled to Nov. 16 at 1:04 a.m. EST with a launch window that extends for two hours until 3:04 a.m. EST.
Artemis 1 is absolutely critical and must be successful in order for NASA to move forward with Project Artemis to once again land American astronauts on the Moon – potentially as soon as 2025 if all goes well.
Two earlier attempt to launch Artemis 1 were scrubbed for technical reasons in August and September
The countdown began ticking towards liftoff at 1:54 AM.
Weather conditions currently look very good with 80% GO
NASA’s Artemis I managers convened Monday afternoon, Nov. 14, to review the status of countdown operations as well as two open technical items at a mission management team meeting.
After thoroughly reviewing all the engineering data the team unanimously gave a “go” to proceed toward launch Wednesday, Nov 16, following a mission management team meeting that concluded Monday evening Nov. 14.
They announced the ‘GO’ for Artemis 1 launch at a media briefing Monday evening.
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.
The 32-story tall Artemis 1 stack is comprised of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Mega moon rocket integrated with the Orion crew spacecraft on top.
Artemis 1 is an unpiloted lunar test flight with no astronauts on board.
If all goes well Artemis 2 will launch in about 2 years by late 2024 with a crew of 4 astronauts from the US and Canada.
The original target of Nov 14 was ditched because of the approach of Hurricane Nicole and significant uncertainty in its path across the Florida peninsula and impact on the Space Coast specifically.
A Nov. 16 launch of Artemis 1 would result in an approximately 26-day long mission with a splashdown of the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Dec. 11.
If needed, NASA has a back-up launch opportunity on Saturday, Nov. 19, and will coordinate with the U.S. Space Force for additional launch opportunities
Managers reviewed the two remaining technical problems – RTV delamination caused by Hurricane Nicole and hydrogen propellent flow equipment – and concluded unanimously that they were not a threat to flight
A 10 foot section of Orion RTV insulation was ripped off during the storm by Hurricane Nicole. It is located on the ogive panel between the launch abort system (LAS) and the crew module adapter.
NASA has to determine if it was a risk to flight that could impact SLS below during liftoff and cause a issue or potentially a catastrophe.
“Engineers examined detailed analysis of caulk on a seam between an ogive on Orion’s launch abort system and the crew module adapter and potential risks if it were to detach during launch. The mission management team determined there is a low likelihood that if additional material tears off it would pose a critical risk to the flight,” said NASA managers at the breifing.
“Technicians also completed replacing a component of an electrical connector on the hydrogen tail service mast umbilical. While swapping the component did not fully fix the issue, engineers have redundant sources of information supplied through the connector.”
All elements of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are powered up.
Overnight, teams will charge flight batteries, conduct final walkdowns at the launch pad, and check out communications with Orion, they said at the breifing.
You can watch the launch live on NASA TV
Full launch coverage will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Nov 15
Live coverage of tanking operations with commentary on NASA TV will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 3:30 p.m.
Weather conditions remain 80% favorable for the Artemis I launch based on the Monday, Nov. 14 forecast from meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45. Primary concerns are the potential for thick clouds and cumulus clouds.
Artemis 1 will be uncrewed and is the first test flight in NASA’s Project Artemis program to return humans to the Moon for the first time in five decades.
NASA is targeting a lunar landing on Artemis 3 for late 2025
The SLS launch on Nov 16 or 19 will enable a ‘short class’ Orion mission of nearly 4 weeks around the Moon and back to give the spacecraft the best workout possible before a crew of human astronauts fly aboard the Artemis 2 mission about 2 years later – now targeted for late 2024.
SLS is currently the most powerful rocket built by NASA with a liftoff thrust of 8.8 million pounds.
The looming Nicole forced NASA to again halt pad operations and postpone liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion crew spacecraft for the Artemis I mission because of extreme wind and rain threats approaching Florida just days after it rolled back out to the pad on Friday, Nov. 4.
SLS was subjected to hurricane force winds from Nicole of 82+ MPH
SLS is designed to withstand wind gusts up to 85 MPH at the 60 foot level.
NASA managers said it was safer to keep Artemis 1 out at pad 39B rather than move it back to the VAB during high winds and rain – that were deemed a greater threat to the rocket structural integrity while in motion and on the crwalerway.
They made the decision to keep Artemis 1 at the pad after extensive discussions concluding Sunday evening, Nov. 6.
The looming Nicole forced NASA to again halt pad operations and postpone liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion crew spacecraft for the Artemis I mission because of extreme wind and rain threats approaching Florida just days after it rolled back out to the pad.
“Based on expected weather conditions and options to roll back ahead of the storm, the agency determined Sunday evening the safest option for the launch hardware was to keep the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft secured at the pad,” .
“The SLS rocket is designed to withstand 85 mph (74.4 knot) winds at the 60-foot level with structural margin. Current forecasts predict the greatest risks at the pad are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design. The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rains at the launch pad and the spacecraft hatches have been secured to prevent water intrusion.”
There is virtually no protection for Artemis 1 out at the pad where it remained during the storm.
“In preparation for the storm, teams have powered down the Orion spacecraft, SLS core stage, interim cryogenic propulsion stage, and boosters. Engineers have also installed a hard cover over the launch abort system window, retracted and secured the crew access arm on the mobile launcher and configured the settings for the environmental control system on the spacecraft and rocket elements. Teams also are securing nearby hardware and performing walkdowns for potential debris in the area.”
“Teams are poised to resume work as soon as weather and Kennedy center status allows. Once back on-site, technicians will perform walkdowns and inspections at the pad to assess the status of the rocket and spacecraft as soon as practicable.”
For the fourth and hopefully final time NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket integrated with the Orion crew spacecraft for the Artemis I mission rolled out to launch pad 39B from the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida starting just before midnight Friday, Nov. 4, ahead of the next launch attempt new rescheduled for just past midnight, Monday, Nov. 14, on a test flight around the Moon and back.
The crawler-transporter hoisted the 322-foot-tall integrated Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft stack standing atop the mobile launcher inside the VAB and began the approximately 4.2-mile (6.8 km) nighttime journey from the VAB to the launch pad at about 11:17 p.m. EDT. Thursday Nov. 3, under excellent weather conditions.
At that time Nicole was not a named storm and not felt to be a significant threat to the rocket or launch timing.
The rollout took place after NASA managers determined it was safe to do so despite the formation of a tropical wave in the Atlantic with the at that time unknown but estimated to lower risk potential to grow in strength and impact KSC
The 32 story tall stack soon emerged from the opened doors of the VAB High Bay 3 where the Artemis 1 mega moon rocket initially underwent assembly and then repairs and refurbishments for the earlier pair of launch attempts and wet dress rehearsal propellant loading and countdown tests.
Artemis 1 arrived at pad 39B after a nearly nine-hour journey from the VAB at around 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT).
It then moved up the ramp and NASA declared the SLS and mobile launch platform “hard down” on the launch pad at 10:07 a.m. EDT (1407 GMT) Friday, Nov. 4 after about a 10 hour trek.
The crawler-transporter moves at a maximum speed of about 0.8 MPH
The Artemis 1 stack has a mass of 21.4 million pounds and is comprised of the 32 story tall SLS/Orion rocket, its mobile launch platform, and the crawler-transporter
Enjoy our photos showing Artemis 1 emerging from the VAB and the overnight trek towards launch complex 39B as well as earlier launch attempts and rolls back and forth taken by Ken Kremer and Jean Wright for Space UpClose.
NASA was forced to wave off the last Artemis 1 launch attempt period in late September and early October in the face of the impending devastating threat from monster Hurricane Ian as it was approaching the Florida peninsula including the Space Coast – and roll the 32 story tall stack back to the VAB processing hangar for protective shelter on Sept. 26/27.
NASA’s Artemis 1 SLS/Orion lunar test flight rocket had remained at pad 39B following a pair of scrubs from launch attempts on Aug. 29 and Sept. 3.
The vehicle arrived back inside the VAB just in the nick of time because Ian stuck Florida and weather was atrocious 24 hours later.
Watch Ken’s commentary about Project Artemis, SpaceX Falcon Heavy, Crew-5, NASA SLS cryo and WDR tests, NASA SpaceX Crew & Cargo Dragons and more
Nov 7/8: Fox 35 Orlando – As subtropical storm Nicole approaches KSC and Florida watch my comments about NASA deciding for the moment to keep Artemis 1 moon rocket at pad 39b and not roll back to VAB
NASA says it's keeping Artemis on the launch pad. The rocket can withstand winds up to 85 miles an hour. The @NWSMelbourne is predicting windspeeds could very well hit that point in Brevard County – in fact, a Tuesday morning update says windspeeds could be in the 74-110mph range pic.twitter.com/i569eAmi9p
— Marie Edinger FOX 35 (@MarieEdinger) November 8, 2022
Nov 4/5: WFTV ABC News Orlando featured my commentary about Artemis 1 rollout overnight and goals of NASA lunar test flight mission launching Nov 14 at 1207 AM
Nov 4: Fox 35 Orlando featured my commentary about Artemis 1 rollout overnight and goals of NASA lunar test flight mission launching Nov 14
Nov 1: Fox 35 Good Day Orlando morning show featured my live and taped prelaunch interview commentary about SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch with Space Force national security payloads
Nov 1: WFTV ABC News featured my commentary about SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch with Space Force national security payloads
Oct 31: WFTV ABC News featured my commentary about SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch with Space Force national security payloads
Oct 27: WFTV ABC News and Fox 35 Orlando featured my commentary about Falcon Heavy and the Space Force national security payloads
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis, SpaceX missions, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom, JWST, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
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Upcoming and recent space events and talks by Ken Kremer & Jean Wright
Nov 14/15 from 7 to 9 PM Quality Inn, Titusville, FL: Join Ken and Jean for Artemis 1, Falcon Heavy and space mission and rocket launch outreach. Ask us anything. plus display our photos and space apparel items for sale