NASA delays launch of Artemis I moon rocket

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launch vehicle at Launch 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida August 26, 2022.

Steve Seipel | NASA

NASA delayed its Artemis I lunar mission again on Saturday after making a second attempt to lift the unmanned launch from the ground.

The space agency is working toward the debut of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule for a more than month-long trip around the moon, but now faces a delay of at least several weeks.

As NASA was filling the rocket Saturday morning, the agency’s team discovered a hydrogen leak in the engine section. NASA made several attempts to patch the leak, but time ticked before the launch window, which was scheduled to open at 2:17 p.m. ET.

NASA aborted a first launch attempt on Monday after failing to resolve a temperature issue found on one of the rocket’s four liquid-fueled engines, discovered less than two hours before the countdown expired.

NASA said later Saturday it would not attempt another launch during the current period, which ends Tuesday. The agency said it must roll the 32-story rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida before trying again.

The next available launch periods begin on September 19th and October 17th, each lasting about two weeks.

The unmanned launch marks the debut of the most powerful rocket ever built and heralds NASA’s long-awaited return to the lunar surface. It is the first mission in NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which is tentatively scheduled to land the agency’s astronauts on the moon until its third mission in 2025.

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