After NASA aborted Artemis 1 on Saturday (September 3) for the second time in a week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk came up with a solution to use CH4 (hydrogen).
NASA has again aborted Artemis 1 on Saturday (September 3) for the second time in a week. The US space agency had to terminate the mission, owing to the leak of liquid hydrogen during the fuelling of the tanks of the rocket engine. While a team of engineers with high expertise in rocket technology couldn’t fix the issue, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk came up with a suggestion that will finally take astronauts to the lunar surface after decades.
Eric Berger of Ars Technica explained that the US space agency has a tolerance for a small amount of hydrogen leakage and anything above a 4 percent concentration of hydrogen near the ‘quick disconnect’ is considered a flammability hazard. Replying to him, Musk said that Raptor design started out using H2 (hydrogen), but switched to CH4 (hydrogen), which is the best combo of high efficiency and ease of operation. He stated, “Delta-v difference between H2 and CH4 is small for most missions, because the CH4 tank is much smaller & no insulation is needed.”
Here, the delta-v is the difference of velocity that a rocket engine can apply on a spacecraft as a function of the specific impulse and the variation in the mass of the vehicle itself.
According to Musk, CH4 (methane) is easier to produce on Mars and is “very important” for launch missions. His SpaceX is among the first companies to use liquid methane and hydrogen as rocket fuel.
According to the report, the NASA Artemis spacecraft has an 8-inch diameter line carrying liquid hydrogen into the rocket that “sprung a persistent leak at the inlet, known as a quick-disconnect, leading on board the vehicle”.
NASA has scheduled the next launch window from September 19 to October 4. “However, making that window would necessitate fixing the rocket at the pad, and then getting a waiver from the US Space Force, which operates the launch range along the Florida coast,” said the report.
Meanwhile, the space agency has another Artemis I launch opportunity from October 17 to October 31.