Artemis 1 was supposed to have launched Monday, but didn’t make it off the pad thanks to a heater that didn’t bring its engine up to proper prelaunch operating temperature. The new launch window is set for Saturday, September 3 at 2:17 p.m. ET.
The mission, which will send Lockheed-Martin Space’s Orion multi-role crew capsule on a trip around the Moon and back, is an important test flight for the craft. The Orion capsule is designed to carry a human crew to deep space, for potential missions to the Moon, Mars, and even a visit to an asteroid at some point.
NASA froze the liftoff of Artemis 1 last Monday Just 40 minutes before liftoff so that they could check out a temperature difference in one of the RS-25 engines as they all went through the routine process of bleeding hydrogen. Engine number 3 wasn’t matching its three counterparts.
The investigation was taking too long, so the launch director finally scrubbed the launch attempt at 8:35 a.m. ET.
“We don’t launch until it’s right,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on NASA’s livestream shortly afterwards. “I think it’s just illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work. And you don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go.”
The rocket, called the Space Launch System (SLS), was partially filled with fuel at the time of the issue. NASA said the rocket and its Orion spaceship were stable, so engineers were maintaining that partially fueled state Monday morning in order to gather more data on the engine issue.
In a blog post after the scrub, NASA said that “launch controllers were continuing to evaluate why a bleed test to get the RS-25 engines on the bottom of the core stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff was not successful, and ran out of time in the two-hour launch window.”
NASA had previously intended to test the engine bleed during a launch rehearsal in June, but was unable to do so because of a hydrogen leak.
The rocket will remain on Launchpad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center until Saturday. Weather during Saturday’s launch window “is a 60% go for launch,” Melody Levin, a meteorologist at NASA, said at a briefing on Thursday. “The bottom line is that I don’t expect weather to be a showstopper.”
If the launch does not happen on schedule this time, the next two-hour window will be on Monday, September 5.
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