Brian Cox outlines goals of NASA's Artemis 1 mission launch

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The next available launch window — when the Earth and the Moon’s orbits are best aligned — begins on September 19 and ends on October 4, excepting September 29 & 30. Should the massive, 322-foot-tall rocket not be ready for lift-off by the latter date, NASA will be forced to wait for the subsequent window, which runs from October 17–31, not including October 24–26 & 28. The Artemis I mission has already been postponed twice, with the first attempt called off after a sensor reading incorrectly reported that one of the rocket’s four main engines was too hot.

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Earlier today, NASA tweeted the following update: “Teams have decided to repair a seal between the mobile launcher and the rocket at [Kennedy Space Center]’s Launch Pad 39B.

“We are continuing to review options for the next launch attempt.”

In a blog post, a NASA spokesperson explained that undertaking the repair at the pad will require technicians to set up an enclosure around the work area/

This is necessary to protect the hardware from the environment — but will also allow the engineers to perform the work under the same cryogenic conditions the rocket fuel is kept at.

It may also be necessary, they said, to perform further repairs after rolling the rocket back to the vehicle assembly building.

This shift in location will be necessary anyway in order to reset the batteries on the rocket’s flight termination system — a self-destruct mechanism designed to safely destroy the craft in the event of a problem after launch — in order to meet flight certification requirements.

NASA added: “Additionally, teams will also check plate coverings on other umbilical interfaces to ensure there are no leaks present at those locations.

“With seven main umbilical lines, each line may have multiple connection points.”

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Florida’s space coast in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Artemis I rocket roaring up through the atmosphere — only to be disappointed.

Consolation may have come for those who instead witnessed a launch of one of SpaceX’s missions, with the private space firm continuing to launch their Falcon 9 missions apace.

Launches carrying Starlink internet satellites took off both two days before Artemis I’s first launch attempt and then again about two days after NASA scrubbed the second go.

In fact, SpaceX has launched 40 rockets this year — predominantly for Starlink, but also sending up an “orbital transfer vehicle” (basically a space tug) for the firm Spaceflight.

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Space advocacy organisation The Planetary Society’s senior policy adviser Caset Dreier visited the Space Coast for the first Artemis I launch attempt.

He said that he was happy to see what he dubbed a “contingency launch”.

Mr Dreier added: “Beautiful view. It lit up the clouds from beneath and I saw — you could make out the rocket, the whole shape of it, and that’s just a modest little Falcon 9.

“So I did see a launch, even if I didn’t see the Space Launch System go itself.”

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