NASA delays Artemis moon mission after second launch attempt halted due to fuel leak

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 26, 2022.

Steve Seipel | NASA

NASA postponed its Artemis I moon mission again on Saturday, after making a second attempt to get the uncrewed launch off the ground.

The space agency is working toward the debut of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule, for what would be a more than month-long journey around the moon, but is now facing a delay of at least several weeks.

As NASA was filling the rocket on Saturday morning, the agency’s team detected a hydrogen fuel leak from the engine section. NASA made several attempts to fix the leak, but time ticked away ahead of the launch window that was set to open at 2:17 p.m. ET.

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NASA called off a first launch attempt on Monday after it was unable to resolve a temperature problem identified with one of the rocket’s four liquid-fueled engines, discovered with less than two hours to go in the countdown.

NASA said later Saturday it would not attempt another launch during the current period, which ends Tuesday. The agency said it will need to roll the 32-story tall rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida before another attempt.

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The next available launch periods begin Sept. 19 and Oct. 17 and last about two weeks each.

The uncrewed launch is set to mark the debut of the most powerful rocket ever assembled, and kicks off NASA’s long-awaited return to the moon’s surface. It’s the first mission in NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which is tentatively planned to land the agency’s astronauts on the moon by its third mission in 2025.

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