NASA forced to scrub Monday’s Artemis launch due to engine issues

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NASA???s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA???s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA???s Artemis I flight test, the wet dress rehearsal will run the Artemis I launch team through operations to load propellant, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and drain the tanks to practice timelines and procedures for launch. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Artemis Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson had already given the “go” to load the propellants into the launching system rocket. Then at 8:34 EDT NASA was forced to scrub the mission.

The Artemis missions are slated to land the first woman and first person of color on NASA’s return to the Moon.

The initial Artemis launch was set to pave the way for human’s long-term presence on the lunar surface. And it was going to be the first step to sending astronauts to Mars. 

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NASA has additional launch opportunities in early September. And that depends on whether all issues are fully diagnosed and fixed. 

 

Artemis Launch failed “bleed test”

NASA administrator Bill Nelson spoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida claiming, “We don’t launch until it’s right.”

Both the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft are both safe and remain in a stable configuration. And the launch crew will continue to evaluate why a “bleed test” failed in engine 3. The test was to assure the RS-25 engines were in the right temperature range for liftoff during the 2-hour launch window. 

Launch controllers condition the engines by heightening pressure on core stage tanks to keep in a stable temperature range. Engine 3 is where the issue with the bleed process was first noted.

A small crack in the thermal protection system material on one of the flanges on the core stage was also found. Flanges connecting joints are used at the top and bottom of the inter-tank so both tanks can be seamlessly attached to it.

NASA engineers continue to troubleshoot and assess the situation. But today’s launch is scrubbed. And it will be September before there is another likely launch window.