NASA has been facing technical difficulties while launching its upcoming lunar mission, Artemis 1. The US-based space agency had to terminate the mission twice owing to a leak of hydrogen during the fueling of the tanks of the rocket engine. When a team of specialized engineers couldn’t fix the issue, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk currently embroiled in a case with Twitter and aiming for futuristic space missions have come up with a solution.
What experts are saying about Artemis-I faulty hydrogen engine
After Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor of Ars Technical, a website that caters to news related to space science and technology tried to explain the issue as ‘tolerance for leakage’ issue, Musk supported his assessment and referred to SpaceX Raptor engine as more equipped for such flights.
According to Berger, NASA doesn’t tolerate hydrogen leaks that exceed a certain concentration of hydrogen. This means that anything over 4% of hydrogen near the “quick disconnect” is considered a potential flammability hazard.
Musk finds that the Raptor engine used in SpaceX’s Starship system is the best combination of ease of operation and efficiency. He further said that the design started out with hydrogen but switched to CH4 instead.
The main component of the Raptor engine is liquid methane and liquid oxygen. The feature is a departure from the traditional “open-cycle” gas generator system of Merlin engines. It also uses a different type of propellant.
Musk noted that the Delta-v difference between the H2 and CH4 components is relatively small for most missions. He also said that the CH4 tank is smaller, which eliminates the need for insulation.
Delta-v refers to the velocity that a rocket engine can thrust a spacecraft into when it’s launched. This is because the vehicle’s mass and the specific impulse it generates are taken into account.
He noted that producing methane on Mars is easier and it’s very important for launch missions. SpaceX is one of the first private space company to use hydrogen and liquid methane as fuel.
Musk’s ambitious settlement in Mars plans
Elon Musk has a long-standing plan to build a sustainable city on Mars in the next two to three decades. He noted that SpaceX is currently working on its Starship megarocket, which will eventually transport people and cargo to the moon and Mars.
The goal of this project is to establish a sustainable city on Mars that would be able to support a population of one million people. This move if successful will transform humanity into a multi-planet species.
As for the failure of the Artemis -I mission. reports suggest NASA’s technical issue with the rocket was caused by a hydrogen leak that led to the vehicle’s separation. This issue was reportedly caused by an 8-inch diameter line connecting the liquid hydrogen to the rocket.
NASA pulled its second attempt to launch the Artemis-i mission on Saturday but had to abort it. The space agency has a couple of hours to resolve the issues. The date for the next launch is unclear and might happen after the agency finds a definitive resolution to the issue.