The start of a new era of space exploration will have to wait after an engine problem prompted NASA to call off Monday’s launch of its next-generation moon rocket.
Preparations in the hours leading up to the planned 8:33 am ET launch of NASA’s unmanned SLS rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida had gone well. But 40 minutes from liftoff, NASA stopped the countdown clock as it tried to resolve a problem with the number three engine in the rocket’s core stage.
The window remained open until 10:33 am ET, but at 8:37 am ET the space agency decided it didn’t have enough time and announced it was scrapping Monday’s launch attempt.
the launch of #Sagebrush It’s not happening anymore today as the crews deal with an issue with an engine bleed. The teams will continue to collect data and we will keep you updated on the timing of the next launch attempt. pic.twitter.com/u6Uiim2mom
– NASA (@NASA) August 29, 2022
The next launch window for the Artemis I mission opens on Friday, September 2, though this will only take place if NASA can resolve the engine problem by then.
The decision to halt Monday’s countdown will have been a major disappointment to the huge crowds who flocked to the Florida Space Coast to witness what would have been NASA’s most powerful rocket launch to date. Millions of people watching online and on TV will also have to wait longer than expected to see the launch.
The mission, when launched, will test the new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft on a mission to the moon. The Orion will not land on the lunar surface, but will fly around the celestial body before returning to Earth on a mission that will last six weeks.
A successful mission, in which all the technology works as expected, would put NASA on course for a manned flight that would take the same route around the moon, possibly in 2024. And then a year later, NASA will try the first manned lunar landing. in five decades, putting the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the moon.
NASA’s Artemis program could also see humans build a lunar base for long-term stays, with knowledge gained from lunar missions used for the first manned missions to Mars, possibly in the late 2030s.