Due to an engine leak, Saturday’s (Sept. 3) second launch attempt of NASA’s Artemis “giant moon rocket” was postponed by more than a month, most likely until mid-October.
The 30-story Space Launch System (SLS), which is part of the enormous Artemis 1 rocket, will be hauled back to the vehicle assembly facility, and the next launch window won’t open until at least early October, according to NASA.
Both Artemis 1 launch attempts have been scrubbed by technical issues. The first attempt was called off because of a failure to cool one of the RS-25 engine’s four core-stage engines to a safe temperature in time for liftoff. NASA declared that it had fixed the problem, which the agency said was caused by a faulty sensor that incorrectly reported the temperature inside the engine as being much higher, and much further from flight-ready, than it actually was.
Part of NASA’s wider Artemis program is the Artemis 1 mission, which will take the Orion spacecraft up to 40,000 miles beyond the moon and return. The Artemis 1 mission will be followed by the 2024 and 2025–2026 Artemis 2 and Artemis 3 missions, respectively. With a four-person human crew, Artemis 2 will travel in the same manner as Artemis 1, and Artemis 3 will send the first woman and person of color to set foot on the lunar south pole. According to Nelson, the initial launch’s delay won’t have an impact on the program’s remaining schedule.
Months before the planned launch, NASA’s moon rocket encountered technical problems. A broken helium valve and a liquid hydrogen leak prevented the rocket from being ready for ignition during the wet dress rehearsal in April. As a result, NASA decided to launch the rocket without doing a complete prelaunch test of the rocket’s assembled engines out of fear of further delays. Nevertheless, there have been delays.
However, according to NASA, the expensive Artemis program is worthwhile since it will promote technical advancement and represent a significant advancement in humankind’s cosmic exploration.