We Are Going-Just Not Today

Photo by: Zac Shaul – NHS

August 29 at 8:30 am E.T. from the Kennedy Space Center LC-39A Press Site

NASA has postponed the Artemis I launch this morning after problems occurred during the countdown, delaying the inaugural flight of its towering rocket and long-awaited mission to the Moon. Lift off was slated to occur during a two-hour launch window that opened at 8:30 am E.T. this morning and ran through 10:30 am E.T. This launch would have been the debut flight of the most powerful rocket NASA has ever assembled and usher in a new era of spaceflight, the Artemis Era. During this time, we will land the next man and first woman on the lunar surface. It all starts with Artemis I though as it will be an uncrewed test flight to ensure all systems are nominal for astronauts to be ferried to the Moon during later missions.

NASA’s team is expected to meet this Tuesday afternoon to discuss the next stems for Artemis I. If a launch in the next week is not possible the SLS may have to be rolled back from the launch pad into the VAB, which would be a lengthy process and further the mission start by several weeks.

Photo by: Matt Cutshall – NHS

The issue at hand is that one of the engines. Chilling the rocket’s engines before flowing cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen through them is a required step before launch. Three of the engines passed the test while the third, engine three was unable to complete this process despite numerous troubleshooting efforts. Engine three, as they all are, is a recycled RS-25 engine from the Space Shuttle Program and flew during the STS – 116, 120, 124, 119, 129, and 133 missions on the space shuttle. This issue was a known risk as NASA had not fully completed a fueling test or Wet Dress Rehearsal after four attempts to do so this year.

A hydrogen leak in the engines and a crack in the thermal protection system material that protects the core of the rocket were also found during the countdown this morning. Those issues were able to be resolved and would not have called off the launch today. Now we wait to see if NASA will go for launch on the next window, this Friday at 12:48 pm E.T. or the second back up date of September 3. Weather is currently tracking to be an issue those days, but for now we remain hopeful that the world will soon see this rocket fly.