NASA officials said the next launch attempt Artemis I it will be September 27th at the earliest.
The second launch attempt of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket was delayed by a liquid hydrogen leak.
Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight that will lay the groundwork for future Artemis missions with astronauts.
NASA is targeting Sept. 27 as the next launch attempt of its Artemis I moon rocket, with a possible fallback date of Oct. 2, NASA said Monday.
That’s if engineers are able to fix the hydrogen leak that halted the last launch attempt on Sept. 3, and if the rocket is allowed to remain on the launch pad without another return to Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building.
On Friday, the Artemis I team completed hydrogen leak repairs on Launchpad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA plans to conduct refueling tests on September 21 to make sure the source of the fuel leak has been removed and the crew is ready for the next launch attempt.
On September 27, a 70-minute launch window is scheduled to open at 11:37 AM. ET. The rocket will launch back to Earth on November 5. The backup launch date of Oct. 2, which has a 109-minute launch window starting at 2:52 p.m. ET, is “under review,” according to NASA. If the rocket launches on October 2nd, it should land back on Earth on November 11th.
The space agency also reached out to officials from the US Space Force’s Eastern Range — which reviews and approves all missions that take off from the Cape Canaveral area — to extend the battery retest requirement to the moon rocket’s flight termination system. .
The new launch dates come after the launch of the Space Launch System and the unpaid Orion capsule was canceled for the second time on Saturday 3 September. At 7:15 am ET, a leak occurred as engineers increased the pressure in the liquid hydrogen flow in the core stage.
“Teams encountered a liquid hydrogen leak while loading propellant into the Space Launch System rocket’s core stage,” NASA said in a blog post. “Multiple troubleshooting attempts to address the area of the leak by reinstalling a seal on the quick disconnect where liquid hydrogen is fed to the rocket did not correct the problem.”
After troubleshooting efforts were unsuccessful, Artemis’s launch manager aborted the launch.
It was the second scrub — NASA’s term for canceling a launch on a particular day — for the mega Moon rocket. During NASA’s first launch attempt on August 29, sensors suggested that one of the rocket’s four main stage RS-25 engines did not cool to a safe temperature in time for launch.
“We didn’t have the launch we wanted today. I can tell you that these teams know exactly what they’re doing, and I’m very proud of them,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Sept. 3. “Just remember we’re not going to start until it’s right.”
In August, NASA engineers tested the rocket’s flight termination system, which began a 20-day launch schedule. If the launch is delayed beyond those 20 days, engineers will have to bring the rocket back for additional testing, Jeremy Parsons, deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems, said at a news conference Friday.
NASA engineers also deal with weather, a common cause of launch delays. The forecast before Saturday’s attempt showed 60% favorable weather conditions at the start of the launch window. “On any given day, there’s about a one-in-three chance we’ll have a scrub for whatever reason,” NASA meteorologist Melody Levin said in a briefing on Friday, Sept. 2. “Of those chances to rub, there’s a 50 percent chance it’s due to weather,” Levin said.
Additionally, when planning a launch attempt, NASA must ensure that the Orion capsule does not go into eclipse or the shadow of the moon for too long because it depends on solar power.
More than 400,000 visitors were expected to gather near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday to watch the inaugural launch, according to the Space Coast tourism office.
NASA has spent 17 years and an estimated $50 billion developing the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, according to The Planetary Society.
During the Artemis I mission, NASA aims to fly the Orion crew capsule around the moon — farther than any human-built spacecraft has ever flown — before returning for a crash in the Pacific Ocean.
There will be no humans on board during the Artemis I launch. But if the spacecraft successfully completes its mission, NASA plans to put astronauts in the Orion module for another trip around the moon during the Artemis mission II. All is set for Artemis III, on which NASA hopes to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface in 2025.
This story has been updated with new information. Originally published on September 3, 2022.
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