Artemis I launch: Scheduled moon rocket launch scrubbed

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Complications have delayed the planned launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission, which was slated to take off Monday morning from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on an unmanned, six-week test flight around the moon.

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Update 1:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 29: NASA officials are now looking to Friday for the test launch of the Artemis I.

During a news conference hours after the space agency scrubbed the launch, officials confirmed that they are targeting Friday at the earliest but also warned that the launch could be delayed until September, The Associated Press reported.

In addition to an issue with the No. 3 engine not bleeding correctly, the weather was also a factor in the decision to postpone the launch, CNN reported.

“There were also a series of weather issues throughout the launch window. We would have been a no-go for weather at the beginning of the window due to precipitation. Later on in the window, we would have been no-go for lightning within the launchpad area,” Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager, said.

The mission team will regroup tomorrow to decide the options facing the launch.

“We’re going to give the team time to rest, first of all, and then come back fresh tomorrow and reassess what we learned today and then develop a series of options. It’s too early to say what the options are,” Sarafin said, according to CNN.

Update 8:38 a.m. EDT Aug. 29: NASA has canceled Monday’s launch because of fuel leaks, The Associated Press reported. The next launch attempt is scheduled for Sept. 2 but that date hinges on successful testing, CNN reported.

The issue is connected to engine No. 3, one of the rocket’s four engines.

The rocket will be kept in its current formation, our sister station, WFTV, reported.

Update 8:21 a.m. EDT Aug. 29: NASA tweeted shortly before 8:15 a.m. EDT that the launch is “in an unplanned hold” as crews work on a technical issue.

Update 7:41 a.m. EDT Aug. 29: NASA has paused the countdown clock at 40 minutes, WFTV is reporting. Engineers are continuing to troubleshoot technical issues, according to the news station.

Update 7:17 a.m. EDT Aug. 29: NASA crews are attempting to resolve two potential problems, “including an engine that isn’t conditioning properly and an apparent crack on an inner tank,” WFTV is reporting.

“Engineers are troubleshooting an issue conditioning one of the RS-25 engines (engine 3) on the bottom of the core stage,” NASA wrote in a blog post early Monday. “Launch controllers condition the engines by increasing pressure on the core stage tanks to bleed some of the cryogenic propellant to the engines to get them to the proper temperature range to start them. Engine 3 is not properly being conditioned through the bleed process, and engineers are troubleshooting.”

The post added: “Teams also are assessing what appears to be a crack in the thermal protection system material on one of the flanges on the core stage. The flanges are connection joints that function like a seam on a shirt, are affixed at the top and bottom of the intertank so the two tanks can be attached to it.”

The delays probably will prevent an 8:33 a.m. EDT liftoff, but the launch window lasts until 10:33 a.m. EDT, according to The New York Times.

Original report: According to WFTV and The Associated Press, the launch window for the agency’s most powerful rocket, dubbed Space Launch System, opens at 8:33 a.m. EDT and closes two hours later. NASA has designated Friday and Sept. 5 as backup dates if Monday’s launch is postponed, CNN previously reported.

The 322-foot rocket, which was slowly rolled out to Launch Pad 39B in Cape Canaveral earlier this month, is set to send an Orion capsule carrying three test dummies past the moon and back, the AP reported. If the launch occurs Monday, the craft’s 42-day, 1.3 million-mile journey should end Oct. 10 in a splashdown near Baja, California, according to WFTV.

Although lightning strikes were confirmed near the launch pad over the weekend, officials said the rocket and capsule were not damaged, the AP and WFTV reported.

Early Monday, crews managed a fuel leak, according to WFTV. NASA later tweeted that the leak had reached “an acceptable level,” the news station reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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