NASA reveals aftermath of troubled moon rocket – Reuters

A fuel leak forced NASA to cancel Saturday’s attempt to launch its Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket, for the second time this week. If the issue isn’t resolved in the next few days, the agency will likely have to postpone the long-awaited Artemis 1 lunar mission until October.

A hydrogen leak was detected during refueling, about seven hours before the scheduled takeoff, and engineers made several last-minute attempts to fix the problem during the countdown. However, the launch was ultimately canceled three hours before the scheduled liftoff at 2:17 p.m. EDT (6:17 p.m. GMT).

“During today’s launch attempt, engineers found a leak in a cavity between the ground side and side plates of the rocket surrounding an 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the SLS rocket. Three attempts to reposition the seal were unsuccessful,” space officials explained in a press release.

The space agency initially said there was still a 90-minute launch window on Monday and an even briefer 24-minute opportunity for another attempt on Tuesday. However, he later announced that the “Mission officials met and decided they would forgo further launch attempts in early September.”

If engineers are forced to take the rocket back to the hangar for more serious inspection and repairs, the launch is unlikely to happen before the SpaceX Crew-5 mission to Scape International Station in October.

“We’ll go when it’s ready” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Saturday afternoon, commenting on the latest delay. “We’re not going that far, and especially now on a test flight… It’s part of the space business.”

The Artemis 1 uncrewed mission was originally scheduled to lift off on Monday, but a similar hydrogen leak issue, this time from one of the rocket’s four liquid-fueled engines, was detected just hours before launch, causing caused a delay.

The Artemis program is an ambitious project by the US space agency focused on lunar exploration and eventually bringing humans back to the surface of the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years. The first mission is supposed to be a trial to fly test dummies into lunar orbit before returning to Earth. However, American astronauts are expected to set foot there no earlier than 2025.


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