Monday, October 3, 2022
Home SCIENCE Rocket Woes delays launch of NASA's Artemis I mission

Rocket Woes delays launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission

A problem with one of the four rocket motors that will power NASA’s new giant launch vehicle for deep space exploration forced the space agency to cancel today’s highly anticipated launch of the booster.

One of the Space Launch System’s RS-25 rocket engines – Engine No. 3: was not producing the desired flow rate during the ‘engine start purge’ procedure, which conditions all four engines for launch. All four rocket engines must be at the right temperature for launch.

After numerous failed troubleshooting attempts, the launch team simply ran out of time and was unable to complete the necessary preparations to launch Artemis 1 before the close of today’s two-hour launch window. Engineers will continue to collect test data from the partially fueled launch vehicle to determine the cause of the rocket motor problem.

NASA had hoped to test this liquid hydrogen engine cooling procedure during its final launch dress rehearsal in June, but was unable to, according to NASA’s Derrol Nail. “So this was the first opportunity for the team to see this live in action. It’s a particularly tricky subject to mark that temperature.”

The rocket motor problem halted plans to launch the SLS rocket and its pilotless Orion spacecraft on an ambitious 42-day test flight around the moon. Liftoff was originally scheduled for 8:33 a.m. EDT (1233 GMT).

The fuel leak wasn’t the only problem NASA faced during Monday’s launch countdown. Offshore storms and lightning delayed the SLS rocket’s fuel supply by nearly an hour, forcing launch controllers to work to make up for lost time. Rains were also invading the launch area at the time of the cleanup.

NASA has at least two days of backup to fly Artemis 1 on its mission to the moon. If today’s rover issues can be resolved, NASA could try to launch again on September 2 or 5, weather permitting. The space agency is also keeping an eye out for several tropical weather systems developing over the warm waters of the Atlantic that could threaten Florida’s east coast.

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