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NASA Calls Off Second Attempt to Launch Artemis Moon Rocket

NASA Artemis Moon
NASA canceled the launch almost from the beginning of Saturday’s countdown procedure. Credit: NASA

On Saturday, NASA postponed the launch of its new Artemis I Moon rocket for the second time in a week, as controllers were unable to stop a hydrogen leak on the vehicle.

On Monday, NASA called off the scheduled launch.

NASA now has another opportunity to launch the rocket on Monday or Tuesday. After that, the vehicle will have to return to its assembly building for inspection and maintenance, which will mean further delays.

The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket ever developed by NASA, and much of the enormous thrust comes from burning almost three million liters of super-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen in four big engines on the vehicle’s underside.

But when controllers sent the early morning command to fill the rocket’s hydrogen tank, an alarm went off, indicating there was a leak.

The problem was traced to the connection where the hydrogen was being pumped into the vehicle.

Controllers tried a number of fixes, including allowing the hardware to warm up for short periods, hoping this might reset the seal but without success.

Saturday’s attempt to dispatch the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket had been scheduled for the start of a two-hour window beginning at 14:17 local time (19:17 BST; 18:17 GMT).

NASA’s goal through Artemis is to hurl a capsule to the Moon

The 100-meter-tall vehicle’s objective was to hurl a human-rated capsule in the direction of the Moon, something that hasn’t happened since Project Apollo ended in 1972.

The goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to build a base on the surface and an orbiting space station called Gateway to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon.

For a trip to Mars that would take at least a few months, Gateway would act as a staging and refueling location.

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