NASA Mission Managers To Discuss Giant Moon Rocket Scrub And Develop Plan Forward

NASA’s mission management team will convene Tuesday afternoon to discuss the reasons that led to the postponement of the launch of the giant Moon rocket carrying Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission, and develop a plan forward.

The Artemis I launch was scrubbed Monday after encountering an issue getting one of the four RS-25 engines on the bottom of the rocket’s core stage to the proper temperature range required to start the engines, and ran out of time in the two-hour launch window to continue the liftoff.

Launch controllers were continuing to evaluate why a bleed test was not successful, while engineers are evaluating data gathered during the launch attempt, according to NASA.

The U.S. space agency will host a media teleconference at 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday to provide an update on data analysis and discussions. While managers have not yet set a date for the next launch attempt, the earliest possible opportunity is September 2, during a two-hour launch window that opens at 12:48 p.m.

The 322-foot-tall stack, consisting of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, was scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its historic maiden flight at 8:33 a.m. Monday.

The Space Launch System’s four engines must be thermally conditioned before super cold propellant begins flowing through them for liftoff. Launch controllers condition them by increasing the pressure on the core stage liquid hydrogen tank to route, or “bleed” as it is often called, a portion of the approximately minus 423 F liquid hydrogen to the engines. Managers suspect the issue, seen on engine 3, is unlikely to be the result of a problem with the engine itself, NASA said in its latest update.

During the countdown, launch controllers worked through several additional issues, including storms in the area that delayed the start of propellant loading operations, a leak at the quick disconnect on the 8-inch line used to fill and drain core stage liquid hydrogen, and a hydrogen leak from a valve used to vent the propellant from the core stage intertank.

The Artemis I test flight with no crew on board is aimed at laying the foundation for a sustained long-term human presence on and around the Moon.

Artemis 2 and 3 missions aims to send astronauts back to the lunar surface for the first time after half a century.

In future Artemis missions, which are set to take place in this decade, NASA has promised to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

Artemis is the first step in the next era of human exploration. Together with commercial and international partners, NASA will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.

Based on lessons learned on and around the Moon, NASA will prepare to take the next giant leap of sending astronauts to Mars. The U.S. space agency estimates it can achieve this landmark breakthrough in space science in the 2030s.

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