“The launch controllers were continuing to evaluate why a bleed test to get the RS-25 engines in the lower core stage to the appropriate temperature range for takeoff had not been successful, and time ran out in the two-hour launch window,” according to an update from NASA. Engineers continue to collect additional data.
The launch team still needs to troubleshoot the engine problem and will keep the missile in its current configuration to collect data and evaluate what to do. The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, located on Launchpad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, remain stable, according to NASA officials.
Before the scrub, the countdown was extended to an unplanned hold as the launch team worked on a troubleshooting plan for one of the rocket’s four engines.
That’s because the launch team discovered a problem with a bleeding engine in Engine #3. Attempts to recreate it were unsuccessful.
As the engine bleeds, hydrogen is circulated through the engine to prepare it for launch. Three of the four motors work as expected, but motor #3 ran into a problem.
Weather conditions remained 80% favorable for launch at the start of the window that opened at 8:33 am, but several problems arose after the rocket began to refuel after midnight.
Marine storms with possible lightning prevented the team from starting the refueling process, scheduled to begin at midnight, for about an hour.
The suspension was lifted at 1:13 a.m. ET, and the tank operation began loading the rocket’s core stage with supercooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
The team stopped filling the tank with liquid hydrogen twice due to the initial leak as well as high pressure, but the tank resumed to the primary stage and started for the upper stage, or temporary cryogenic thrust stage.
The team also discovered a streak of frost at the edge of the inner stage. At first, the engineers thought frost could indicate a crack in the tank, but it turned out to be a crack in the outer foam. The team shared that the HDD issue was resolved as the foam breakage does not indicate a leak.
Engineers were also working to find out the reason for the 11-minute delay in communications between the Orion spacecraft and ground systems. The problem could have affected the start of the final countdown, or the countdown that begins when 10 minutes remain on the clock before takeoff.
Vice President Kamala Harris and second-in-command Doug Imhof are expected to visit the Kennedy Space Center on Monday to witness the launch.
Celebrities such as Jack Black, Chris Evans and Keke Palmer, Josh Groban’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Herbie Hancock’s “America Beautiful” performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are also planned for the program.
When Artemis I is launched, Orion’s journey will last 42 days as it travels to the Moon, orbits it and returns to Earth – traveling a total of 1.3 million miles (2.1 million km). When the capsule returns to land, it will drop into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.
Although the passenger list doesn’t include any humans, it does include passengers: three mannequins and a plush Snoopy ride in Orion.
Expect to see views of the sunrise, similar to what was shared during Apollo 8 for the first time, but with much better cameras and technology.
The inaugural Artemis mission will begin the space exploration phase landing various astronaut crews on previously unexplored regions of the Moon and eventually deliver manned missions to Mars.