NASA’s mission to prepare to set up a lunar base, Artemis I, has been severely delayed. A major hydrogen leak was the culprit.
A major hydrogen leak has put an end to Artemis I, the NASA’s moon mission. NASA is collaborating with the Space Launch System (SLS) on this lunar mission. SLS is an aerospace consortium of the largest US space companies and Space Origin, the space company of multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos. The founder of Amazon.
Teams of engineers discovered the liquid hydrogen leak while loading this fuel into the main stage of the Space Launch System rocket. Several attempts to put the special seal with which the “quick disconnect cavity” back in place failed to solve the malfunction.
Hydrogen very light, but difficult to use
Hydrogen is very popular as a fuel in rockets because it is so light and produces a lot of energy. Both important requirements for rocket fuel. A disadvantage of liquid hydrogen is that it needs to be very cooled and easily leaks through seals.
Unfortunately, hydrogen mixed with oxygen is also very explosive. Just think of what happened to the airship Hindenburg. So a hydrogen leak is very serious and bad news for the moon mission, as long as the cause of the hydrogen leak is not yet known. In a huge rocket like that of Artemis I you are of course looking for a while.
Major hydrogen leak good news for SpaceX
Arch-rival Elon Musk will probably laugh quietly into his fist, although he wished Artemis I every success in a tweet. His company SpaceX offered to carry out the space flights to the moon for only half the price of SLS. SLS managed to prevent this by means of lawsuits.
American politicians and NASA administrators are now expected to ask annoying questions. Because asking twice as much money and then also delivering a breach of contract, of course you do not make yourself popular as a company. Until now, these large space companies have been out of the question because they had powerful connections in American politics.
Since the creation of SpaceX by Musk, prices per launch have fallen dramatically. The era of expensive companies in aerospace is therefore increasingly coming to an end.