NASA weighs moving Artemis rocket off launch pad after second scrub


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NASA is regrouping after another fuel leak delayed the historic launch of its Artemis rocket on Saturday.

The mission management team is due to meet on Saturday afternoon to see if there is still a possibility of liftoff in the next few days or if the return of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the capsule of the Orion crew in the vehicle assembly building is the best course of action. .

If so, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the launch would take place in mid-October, noting that there was already a launch to the International Space Station (ISS) planned during the first week of next month.

The first scheduled launch date for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission is Oct. 3 from the Kennedy in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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NASA’s moon rocket stands on Pad 39B prior to the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the Moon at Kennedy Space Center, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

“We’ll go when it’s ready. We’re not going before,” Nelson said in an interview after the official launch cancellation. “And especially now on a test flight because we’re going to insist on that and test it and test that heat shield and make sure it’s right before we put four humans on it. So that’s part of the space activity.

Artemis Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson canceled the launch at 11:17 a.m. EDT.

The announcement came after hours of work to troubleshoot the leak.

People wait for the NASA lunar rocket launch pad 39B before the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the Moon at the Kennedy Space Center, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

People wait for the NASA lunar rocket launch pad 39B before the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the Moon at the Kennedy Space Center, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The $4.1 billion test flight leak was first detected at 7:15 a.m. local time.

The moon rocket was scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than 2:17 p.m. EDT.

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A previous attempt to launch the 322ft rocket on Monday was also canceled due to a bad engine sensor and a fuel leak.

NASA aims to send the SLS, the most powerful rocket it has ever built, and Orion’s crew capsule around the moon.

NASA's moon rocket stands on Pad 39B prior to the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the moon at Kennedy Space Center, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA’s moon rocket stands on Pad 39B prior to the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the moon at Kennedy Space Center, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

After successful launch, Orion will travel in space for approximately six weeks before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

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If the demo with test dummies works, astronauts could fly around the moon in 2024 and land there in 2025.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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