NASA Scrubs Artemis SLS Moon Rocket Launch • The Register

NASA’s Space Launch System remained rooted to the pad at Kennedy Space Center on the US East Coast this morning after its launch was scrubbed by controllers.

The unmanned rocket was scheduled to launch around 0830 ET (1230 UTC). That Flight would have been the first real test of the multi-billion dollar SLS – that of the US authorities Super heavy lift two-stage rocket – set to take astronauts to the moon by 2025 as part of the Artemis program.

Today’s rocket with an empty Orion crew capsule was supposed to fly around the moon to evaluate its capabilities and design before each manned mission.

Here is NASA’s confirmation on the scrub:

It had already been quite an arduous countdown when the cryogenic fuel loading was briefly postponed while managers eyed thunderstorms lurking off the Florida coast.

After a delay of almost an hour, the refueling started and at first everything seemed to be going well. Cooling down of the main propulsion system and transfer lines proceeded as expected. First the liquid oxygen was transferred and then the liquid hydrogen.

The feeling of déjà vu was palpable when a hydrogen leak was discovered; that too resulted in previous tests. The problem was a spike in the amount of hydrogen that was allowed to leak into a purge tank.

After getting the technical advice, the managers moved on. After a pause, the filling of the liquid hydrogen tank continued, first with a slow filling and then with a fast filling. The concentration of the escaping gas did not increase outside of the restrictions, and another bullet appeared to have dodged as the cryogenic tanks were filled and refilled.

NASA's SLS on the mobile launch vehicle

Artemis I gets 3 start attempts after agreed cancellation system extension


Even an apparent crack in an intermediate tank flange – appearing as a frost line – was explained by engineers as simply air trapped in the flange’s insulating foam and cooled, forming the ice we could see. In other words, nothing to worry about.

However, it was one of the SLS’s RS-25 engines that eventually stopped NASA’s first attempt to launch its Artemis Moon rocket. While three of the four engines were properly cooled by venting some of the cryogenic propellant to the engines, despite the engineers’ best troubleshooting efforts, engine number three failed to cooperate and fail to reach the proper temperature. Unfortunately, NASA was not able to test this step in the previous wet dress rehearsal.

The countdown, already hanging by a thread, stalled at the T-40 minute mark before managers decided to throw in the towel and scrub the start this morning.

NASA didn’t immediately confirm whether the peel would require a rollback to the Vehicle Assembly Building or whether the issue on the pad could be resolved. While the latter would keep the September 2nd and September 5th backup start dates in play, a rollback would move the start date deeper into September or October.

The latest update from NASA read:

Finally, we note that SpaceX was able to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida on Saturday, carrying 54 Starlink broadband satellites to launch it into orbit. ® NASA Scrubs Artemis SLS Moon Rocket Launch • The Register

Laura Coffey

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