On Saturday, September 3, NASA decided against attempting to launch an ambitious test flight of their new moon rocket again due to a persistent leak that caused fuelling to be delayed. A hydrogen fuel leak discovered approximately 7 hours before liftoff prevented the space agency’s effort to launch its Artemis 1 moon mission aboard a massive SLS megarocket on Saturday at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT).
During a live broadcast, a NASA commentator named Derrol Nail said at 11:18 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (15:18 GMT) that the launch attempt for Artemis 1 had been “cut off” or “scrubbed” for the day. Throughout the Artemis 1 countdown, NASA engineers made many attempts to stop the fuel leak. To stop the leak, they first tried warming the tank connection and cooling it with cold gasoline.
In order to stem the leak, engineers first attempted to pressurize it again using helium before switching back to the warm-and-chill approach.
Three attempts were unsuccessful. The next possible attempt to launch NASA’s Artemis 1 to the moon has been pushed back until at least Monday, September 5th. This is the 2nd delay this week for the program. That is, assuming the leak’s root can be quickly repaired. On Monday, NASA has a 90-minute window for launching Artemis 1, with liftoff scheduled for 5:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT).
WHAT IS THE NASA ARTEMIS MISSION AND WHY IS IT SO HISTORIC?
According to the Kennedy Space Center, “Artemis 1 is the first test of NASA’s deep space exploration technologies, with the Orion spacecraft launching atop the enormous Space Launch System rocket.” This mission is the first in a line of missions that will show how NASA can take humanity to the moon and beyond.
So what precisely does it mean?
NASA notes that with the Artemis missions, “NASA will place the first woman and first person of color on the moon, employing cutting-edge technology to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.” “We will develop the first permanent presence on the moon in cooperation with business and international partners. The next great step will be to send the first people to Mars, using what we have learned on and around the moon.”
WHAT PART DOES ARTEMIS 1 PLAY IN THE GENERAL PROGRAM?
NASA notes that during this mission, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the planet and go further than any human-built spacecraft has ever done. “Over a four to six-week journey, it will travel 280,000 miles from Earth and thousands of kilometers beyond the moon. Orion will come home quicker and hotter than ever before after spending more time in orbit than any other spacecraft for humans has without docking to a space station.”