CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WHNT) – The launch of Artemis I has been scrubbed again.
Saturday’s launch attempt, the second of the mission, was scrubbed at 10:18 a.m. CT.
During liquid hydrogen fueling, a leak developed in the supply side (from the ground) of an eight-inch quick disconnect cavity while attempting to transfer liquid hydrogen to the rocket.
Engineers tried three times to reseat the seal, first by warming it up, then applying pressure to the cavity with helium, then warming it up again. Due to the issue persisting, engineers recommended a no-go at 9:55 a.m. CT.
Initially, the next launch window was scheduled for Monday, September 5. The 91-minute window would’ve opened at 4:12 p.m. CT for a 42-day mission. However, Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin said they will not attempt another launch in this period. The next launch period will be the end of September or the beginning of October.
The first scrub occurred during a launch attempt on Monday, August 29. NASA scrubbed that attempt at 7:36 a.m. CT due to an issue with Engine 3 on the Space Launch System core stage. The engine failed to condition (cool down to the super cold temperature needed for starting the engines).
In addition, the August attempt was marred by fueling problems early in the launch day – later resolved, what was thought to be a crack in a core stage tank – later determined to be air that had seeped into a seam on the stage’s protective foam and become chilled due to its close proximity to the super chilled propellant in the tank.
During a news conference following the first scrub, Sarafin said the teams also discovered a leak in an SLS intertank vent valve at the same time as the Engine 3 issue. This made the balancing act of keeping intertank pressure and trying to condition Engine 3 even more difficult, he explained. And even if Engine 3 was able to get conditioned, Sarafin said crews were working against a “no-go” for weather. At the start of the window, precipitation was too close to the Kennedy Space Center; at the end, there was too much lightning to launch.
Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight, slated to send the Orion crew capsule into orbit around the moon and gather data ahead of a crewed mission. If Artemis I is successful, Artemis II could launch as soon as 2024. This crewed test flight will send four astronauts on a lunar fly-by of the Moon (similar to Apollo 10), with Artemis III – scheduled for as soon as 2025 – putting the first woman on the Moon, as well as being the first mission to explore the Moon’s south pole.