CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – NASA postponed Monday’s launch of Artemis I after problems arose during the countdown, delaying the towering rocket launch and long-awaited mission to the moon.
The agency is scheduled to launch the Artemis I mission from Kennedy Space Center in a two-hour launch window that opens at 8:33 a.m. ET, sending a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and capsule Orion on a month-long journey around the moon.
But NASA was unable to resolve the temperature issue identified with one of the four liquid-fuelled engines, which was detected with a countdown of less than two hours.
This non-explosive launch marks the debut of the most powerful rocket ever assembled and kick off NASA’s long-awaited return to the lunar surface. This is the first mission in NASA’s Artemis Moon program, which is expected to send the agency’s astronauts to the moon on a third mission in 2025.
In documentation provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Space Launch System with the Orion spacecraft atop a mobile launch pad as it rolls out of High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building for the first time on the way to Complex 39B March 17, 2022 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
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While Artemis I will not carry an astronaut, nor land on the moon, the mission is important to demonstrate that NASA’s monster rocket and deep space capsule can live up to its promised capabilities. surname. Artemis I has been delayed for years, with the program exceeding its budget by billions of dollars.
NASA has backup launch schedules for September 2 and September 5, but officials at a press conference Monday afternoon could not say whether the engine problem would be fixed before either of those days.
“There’s a chance it’s not zero, we’ll have a launch on Friday,” NASA’s Artemis mission director Mike Sarafin told reporters, before adding that “we really need time.” time to look at all the information, all the data.”
NASA’s team is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to determine next steps for Artemis I. If next week’s launch attempt can’t be made, the SLS rocket may need to be rolled off the launch pad because may be subject to a lengthy delay. .
Sarafin said the ability to move the missile off the launch pad “is passing our data assessments”. “If we could work this out at the pad, there wouldn’t be a need for that.”
Sarafin also notes that engine temperature issues are a known risk, as the agency has not fully completed a fuel test known as “wet skirt maneuver” after four attempts this year.
The agency also found a hydrogen leak in the engine and a crack in the thermal protection system material that protects the rocket core during Monday’s countdown – although those issues were resolved before the launch. Launch is paused for the day.