NASA’s Mega Moon Rocket Misses Its Mark (Again) - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
NASA’s Mega Moon Rocket Misses Its Mark (Again)
NASA Artemis I moon rocket (NASA/YouTube)

Good news! NASA-funded technology, intended to develop a fabric that helps regulate temperatures in space gloves, is now being touted as an effective counter to the hot flashes, heavy sweating, and subsequent chills that frequently plague menopausal women. The phase-based material cycles through liquid and solid states to help wearers maintain steady temperatures. It never made it to space — at least not outer space. But it did make it to London, where Fifty One Apparel markets fashionable garments to women of “a certain age” (51 being the average age at which women begin to experience menopause).

The NASA-funded Mega Moon Rocket and Artemis I? Not such good news. Named after the Greek god Apollo’s twin sister, the Artemis project, which aims to “land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon,” can’t seem to get off the ground. After successive “green run” core rocket failures at Stennis Space Center, the decision was made to finish the testing at the Kennedy Space Center (the rocket can only be fueled and “unfueled” so many times before it becomes unsafe, and there is no replacement). NASA quietly assembled Artemis I with the Space Launch System (SLS) main core rocket, boosters, and Orion capsule and laboriously trundled the thing from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to the launch platform.

A succession of increasingly confident NASA press releases announced pre-launch, launch, and post-launch press conferences and media events (We Are Going!) for the “Mega Moon Rocket.” First black female Vice President and National Space Council “head” Kamala Harris was invited to Kennedy Space Center on Monday, Aug. 29 for the proud moment. Expectations ran high, and then … nothing. The launch was scrubbed before fueling was complete due to hydrogen leaks and faulty temperature sensors. Harris, breathlessly poised to take credit for a successful Artemis I launch, was quickly exited stage left at the first sign of failure. For NASA, success has many mothers, but failure gets the white male talking heads.

The apology tour started off with the first post-scrub presser. NASA Administrator Bill (“We Won’t Go Until We’re Ready”) Nelson, Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin, and Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Jim Free are “taking the hit.” When “pressed” by reporters on confidence levels that the next attempt might prove successful, Sarafin opined that there was a “non-zero chance.” He liked that line so much that he used it twice. Noticeably absent from the podium were NASA Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy, Associate Administrator for Space Operations Kathy Lueders, and “first female” Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, although to her credit (or chagrin) Thompson did get a cameo in the third and fourth pressers.

Follow-on press releases became sequentially less confident. No longer billed as the Artemis I launch (it was now termed a “test launch” and a “launch attempt”), NASA suggested “replacement” or “backup” launch “opportunities” — Wednesday, Aug. 31; Friday, Sept. 3; Monday, Sept. 5; even Tuesday, Sept. 6. Sadly, it was all “pie in the sky.” The Wednesday attempt was never considered seriously, and, unable to solve the hydrogen leak and sensor issues and unable to complete fueling (barely getting beyond 10 percent), NASA scrubbed the Saturday launch — and all subsequent launch possibilities until “sometime in mid-October.” Sarafin’s “non-zero chance” had become Jim Free’s “We will not be launching this launch period. It is definitely off the table.” That launch period ended yesterday, Tuesday, Sept. 6. (READ MORE: As SpaceX Rockets Become Routine, Their Payloads Get All the Glory)

The next launch window runs Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, but no one takes that window seriously. For one thing, the “mega rocket” would need to stay on the launch pad until the window opens, and Bill Nelson is pushing to have it rolled back to the assembly building for repairs. Even if diagnostics and repairs could be made at the launch pad, Space Launch Delta range agreements mandate a return to the VAB after 25 days to rest system batteries, and, even if a waiver was granted, SpaceX’s Dragon Crew-5 mission is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 3. Pollyanna hopefuls holding out for the Oct. 17–31 launch window, or even the Dec. 9–23 preliminary launch window, aren’t getting much traction. NASA has never even been able to fully fuel the core stage, and sequential attempts shorten the rocket’s usable “lifespan.”

No — it’s doubtful Artemis I’s uncrewed demo flight around the moon will “thunder to life” before the new year, and, with a SpaceX Starship orbital flight pending federal agency greenlighting, a lot can happen in three to four months.

But hey. Postmenopausal mumus are still a thing.

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