Artemis I: NASA’s SLS launch is scrubbed once more

Artemis I is NASA's first mission in a program that aims to get the first woman and person of color to the moon. Follow our live updates.
Chris Young
Artemis I.jpg
Artemis I

NASA/YouTube 

NASA has scrubbed the launch of its new Artemis I Moon rocket for the second time in a week after controllers were unsuccessful at stopping a hydrogen leak on the craft, almost from the start of Saturday's countdown procedure.

"Unfortunately today's planned launch attempt for Artemis I has been called off, this after troubleshooting efforts to fix a liquid hydrogen leak failed," NASA wrote on Twitter.

"We will let you know when NASA plans to give the launch another try."

The SLS program has gone wildly over budget

The space agency will now attempt to launch the rocket on Monday or Tuesday. If the launch is not undertaken in that window of time, the vehicle may have to return to its assembly building for inspection and maintenance, which will mean further delays.

Though the Space Launch System (SLS) program has gone wildly over budget and the rocket has faced numerous delays on the road to the launch pad, when the mission does take place it will be a historic moment for space exploration.

It is the first mission in a program that aims to send the first astronauts back to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. That mission, Artemis III, will send the first woman and first person of color to the lunar surface. It is currently slated for a 2025 launch date, though that is largely dependent on the outcome of today’s mission.

Space experts have been quite vocal about the mission, claiming it will make history. Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University Avi Loeb said: “The NASA Artemis program provides an exciting rejuvenation of human visits to the Moon. This will be the first stepping stone for establishing scientific and commercial enterprises on a celestial object far away from Earth. Once successful, humanity can move on to Mars and beyond, eliminating the risk of a single-location catastrophe that will wipe out everything we care about.”

Meanwhile, celebrated astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson said: "I’m still awaiting the day when the entire solar system becomes a backyard, and we're no longer having conversations about the choice of one destination versus another — and in what sequence. The Moon, Mars, and beyond are all destinations."

Scrubbed once before

NASA’s launch was originally scheduled to take off on Monday, August 29, but that launch attempt was scrubbed due to problems that came to light with SLS’s RS-25 engine number 3 during tanking operations. NASA had mentioned that they weren’t able to troubleshoot the issue during their wet dress rehearsal in June.

Then, this morning, controllers sent the command to fill the rocket's hydrogen tank only to have an alarm go off, indicating there was a leak. The problem was identified as the area where the hydrogen was being pumped into the vehicle. Controllers attempted many times to fix the issue, including allowing the hardware to warm up for short periods, but ultimately failed.

The question that is in everyone's mind now is will a third attempt work? There is a lot riding on the success of this mission, and space enthusiasts everywhere are holding their breaths, hoping for a successful third try.

This was a breaking news story, and it will be updated as more information emerges.

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