BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – NASA hoped to attempt the first flight of its behemoth Space Launch System moon rocket Monday morning from Kennedy Space Center, but fuel leaks forced the space agency to scrub the launch.
The Artemis I mission had a two-hour launch window that opened at 8:33 a.m. EDT, but the launch was scrubbed around 8:40 a.m. Monday. The next launch attempt will not take place until Friday afternoon at the earliest.
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NASA said the launch will mark the first integrated flight test of SLS, the Orion spacecraft and supporting ground systems at KSC, factors comprising the agency’s deep space exploration systems.
Whenever the mission launches, the uncrewed Orion spacecraft will eventually leave the summit of the altogether 322-foot-tall SLS Block 1 configuration to travel over 1 million miles to the moon and back again, spending 42 grand days out.
The launch of #Artemis I is no longer happening today as teams work through an issue with an engine bleed. Teams will continue to gather data, and we will keep you posted on the timing of the next launch attempt. https://t.co/tQ0lp6Ruhv pic.twitter.com/u6Uiim2mom— NASA (@NASA) August 29, 2022
In lieu of astronauts, three test dummies will be strapped into the Orion capsule to measure vibration, acceleration and radiation, one of the biggest hazards to humans in deep space.
Astronauts could return to the moon in a few years, if the six-week test flight goes well. NASA officials caution, however, that the risks are high and the flight could be cut short.
NASA officials confirmed there were no impact to the SLS rocket, Orion spacecraft or ground systems from lightning strikes on Saturday.
According to the mission’s weather criteria — a list of reasons to halt different launch operations, including rollout and tanking — liftoff itself will be withheld in a variety of scenarios involving temperature, rain, wind speeds, lightning, clouds and solar activity, including what could possibly be the most simple rule in the whole rundown, bold text included: “Do not launch through precipitation.”
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News 6′s Jerry Askin visited Jetty Park on Sunday to catch up with people who showed up early to claim a spot. Liz Dobbs said she made the drive from Tampa on Friday to get situated as close as possible to the historic launch.
“(We) just want to be as close as we can, hear it, see it,” Dobbs said. “This one is going to be so much bigger and more exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Greg Putira, visiting from elsewhere in Brevard County, said he was most looking forward to hearing another huge rocket take off, NASA’s most powerful rocket ever, in this case.
“Primarily the noise that comes from the space shuttle missions, it’s a phenomenal sound, I haven’t been able to hear it in years,” Putira said. “I’m going to stay all the way through the sixth (of September) just to make sure I get all three chances to watch the launch... really exciting stuff.”
Putira referenced the two backup launch dates that NASA will target in the case of a delay or scrub Monday. Those dates are Friday, Sept. 2, and Monday, Sept. 6. NASA on both dates would also target the beginning of a two-hour launch window, which would open at 12:48 p.m. EDT or 5:12 p.m. EDT, respectively.
Betty Wright, who owns Southern Charm Cafe in Port Canaveral, said launches are boons for local business owners such as herself.
“It draws in a lot of business for the area... for this one, probably a good 40-50% more,” Wright said. “We have seen an increase leading up to the launch this past weekend, people coming in, hotels are already booked... we need that after a long couple of years.”
The follow-on Artemis flight, as early as 2024, would see four astronauts flying around the moon. A landing could follow in 2025. NASA is targeting the moon’s unexplored south pole, where permanently shadowed craters are believed to hold ice that could be used by future crews.
ClickOrlando.com will stream the launch live.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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