NASA has postponed the launching of Artemis 1 launch yet again, at the last minute, no less.
The space agency’s launch director recently decided to halt the launching of Artemis 1 when launch controllers found problems with the rocket during the launch’s countdown, per NASA’s report.
The Artemis 1 mission is the first and only uncrewed mission of the Artemis missions, which are meant to bring American astronauts back to the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 Launch Postponement Details
The Space Launch System and the Orion Spacecraft as they were in the delayed launching of the Artemis 1 mission on Aug. 29.
NASA and Artemis 1’s launch director, Charlie Blackwell, have decided to postpone the launching of the Artemis 1 during the countdown at approximately 8:34 AM EDT.
According to NASA’s report on the matter, an unsuccessful bleed test to get one of the RS-25 engines, which was later revealed to be Engine No. 3, on the bottom of the core stage to the correct temperature range for liftoff occurred.
Thanks to the issue, NASA’s launch controllers were unable to chill the affected main engine to the temperature needed to handle the Space Launch System’s (SLS) super-cold propellant, per Space.com.
Chilling the four RS-25 engines before adding the propellant made up of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen is a required step before the SLS rocket can launch, NASA officials said.
Despite the malfunction, NASA assured the public that the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft remain in a “safe and stable configuration,” and that its engineers are continuing to gather additional data to learn why it happened.
All four RS-25 engines are said to have flown on NASA’s space shuttle program of reusable vehicles.
NASA spokesperson Derrol Nail mentioned that the engine conditioning was something the team couldn’t verify during the four wet dress rehearsals that were successfully concluded in June.
He also added that the engine conditions are something NASA wanted to test during the fourth and final wet dress rehearsal but were unable to. This statement means that Artemis 1’s launching was the only chance NASA could see this particular problem in action and that it is a “particularly tricky issue even going in to get that temperature dialed in, according to engineers.”
There were other problems with the SLS rocket before the launch. According to CNBC’s report, NASA found a hydrogen leak in the engines and a crack in the thermal protection system material that protects the rocket’s core. However, these were immediately resolved before the planned launch window.
The previously mentioned crack is similar to the one found during one of NASA’s wet dress rehearsals, but the issue that caused it to happen may not be the same, NASA mentioned in a subsequent update.
When Is Artemis 1’s New Launch Date?
With the postponement of today’s launch, NASA could try to launch Artemis 1 on Sept. 2 or Sept. 5, if the weather permits. However, should the weather not be ideal for the space agency, it may have to reschedule the launch sometime in October.
“The earliest opportunity, depending on what happens with this engine bleed, would be Sept. 2,” Nail said. “However, we will await a determination of what the plan is to go forward.”