Technical issues delay Artemis I launch. Here’s what’s comes next

Engine issue, hydrogen leak force delays

Fuel leaks on Monday forced NASA to scrub its first attempt at launching the Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I mission from Kennedy Space Center.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Fuel leaks on Monday forced NASA to scrub its first attempt at launching the Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I mission from Kennedy Space Center.

NASA said there was an issue with engine No. 3 on the rocket. Crews say a bleed test to condition the engines was not successful. The test gets the engines to the proper temperature for liftoff.

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Engineers ran out of time to troubleshoot the problem and needed to gather additional data.

It wasn’t the only issue NASA crews were working on -- they had to stop and restart filling because of a hydrogen leak, but were able to cut the seepage to acceptable levels.

Following a fuel leak aboard the Artemis I rocket, NASA experts announced the mission launch will be delayed until Friday at the earliest.

The engines on the SLS rocket are repurposed from the space shuttles. The engine causing the trouble in particular, E2058, was used in six shuttle flights.

“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,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

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.

Referring to launch delays, Nelson said: “It’s just part of the space business and it’s part of, particularly, a test flight.”

NASA will meet in the next 24 hours to go through the data they have and then provide another update.

“We felt and still feel like going (Monday) was the right thing to do,” said Jim Free, associate administrator for the exploration systems development mission directorate.

“The team needs to go off and look at the data,” Free said. “We are not going to have the data and all the implications (until then).”

NASA has two more possible launch dates for the mission:

  • Sept. 2: Two-hour launch window opens at 12:48 p.m., 39-day mission with an Oct. 11 splashdown
  • Sept. 5: One and a half-hour launch window opens at 5:12 p.m., 42-day mission with an Oct. 17 splashdown

NASA said Friday is still in play as a launch possibility. Indications don’t point to a problem with the engine itself, NASA said.

But the launch could also be put off to later in September, or later in the year, depending on how the data shakes out.

“We need to get the team rested (and) see where the data leads us,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager.

When the launch happens, News 6 will stream it live.


About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.