“It’s too early to tell what the options are,” Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told a NASA news conference. “We really need time to review all the information, all the data. We’re going to play all nine sets here. We’re not ready to give up yet.”
The next opportunity to send the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft on their journey is September 2, but whether or not another attempt is made that day depends on how testing goes.
Sarafin confirmed that “Friday is definitely in play” if the team can resolve the issue while the rocket rests on the pad within the next 48 to 72 hours.
The next launch window is September 2, opening at 12:48 p.m. ET and closing at 2:48 p.m. ET. The next window beyond Friday is Tuesday, September 5, opening at 5:12 p.m. ET and closing at 6:42 p.m. ET.
“Launch controllers continued to assess why a purge test to bring the RS-25 engines on the bottom of the center stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff failed and ran out of time in the window. two-hour launch time,” according to an update from NASA. “Engineers continue to collect additional data.”
The launch team knew the bleed test was a risk as they were unable to include it in previous wet suit repeat tests simulating the launch, and Monday was the first time this was demonstrated, Sarafin said.
Currently, the problem does not suggest an engine problem, but rather a problem in the purge system used to cool the engine, he said.
“We need the engine to be at the cryogenically cold temperature so that when it starts it isn’t shocked by all the cold fuel going through it. So we needed a bit more time to assess that. “said Sarafin.
The team also found an issue with the inner tank vent valve and the combination of issues convinced the team they needed more time, Sarafin said.
If a major solution is needed, the team may need more time to fix it and bring the rocket stack back to the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building, a process that takes 3.5 days..
The launch team has yet to fix the engine issue and will keep the rocket in its current configuration to gather data and assess what needs to be done. The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain stable, NASA officials say.
Before the cleanup, the countdown was extended into an unplanned wait as the launch team worked on a recovery plan for one of the rocket’s four engines.
This is because the launch team discovered an issue with an engine bleed in engine #3. Attempts to reconfigure were unsuccessful.
During engine purges, hydrogen is cycled through the engine to condition it for launch. Three of the four engines are working as expected, but engine #3 has experienced a problem.
“There were also a series of weather issues throughout the launch window. We would have been banned for weather early in the window due to precipitation. Later in the window we would have been banned for lightning. inside the launch pad area,” Sarafin said.
Previously, 80% favorable weather had been predicted for the start of the window, which opened at 8:33 a.m. ET, but the weather changed as that time approached.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who traveled to Kennedy Space Center in Florida with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff to witness the launch, underscored the United States’ commitment to NASA’s Artemis program in comments made after the report.
The 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) stack sits on Launchpad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson addressed the scrub shortly after its announcement, noting that Artemis I is a test flight.
“We don’t pitch until it’s good,” Nelson said. “They have a problem with gases flowing over the engine purge on an engine. It’s just an illustration that it’s a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all of these things have to work. You don’t light the candle until he’s ready to go.”
This is something Nelson has personal experience of. As an astronaut, he was on the 24th space shuttle flight. It was rubbed on the pad four times and the fifth try resulted in a flawless mission.
“If we had embarked on one of these scrubs, it wouldn’t have been a good day,” he said.
Several problems arose after the rocket began refueling after midnight.
Storms at sea with lightning potential prevented the team from starting the refueling process, which was scheduled to start at midnight, for about an hour.
The wedge was lifted at 1:13 a.m. ET and the refueling process began loading the rocket’s core stage with super cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
The team stopped filling the tank with liquid hydrogen twice due to an initial leak as well as a pressure spike, but the tank resumed for the middle stage and started for the upper stage , or the cryogenic propulsion intermediate stage.
The team also discovered a line of frost on the inside edge of the floor. At first, engineers thought the frost might indicate a crack in the tank, but it turned out to be a crack in the outer foam. The team shared that the issue was resolved as the foam crack did not indicate a leak.
Engineers also experienced an 11-minute delay in communications between the Orion spacecraft and ground systems. The issue could have impacted the start of the terminal countdown, or the countdown that begins when there are 10 minutes left on the clock before takeoff. The team was able to resolve the issue, which resulted from a simple configuration error.
In addition to Harris’ visit, appearances by celebrities like Jack Black, Chris Evans and Keke Palmer and performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock and “America the Beautiful” by the Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma were scheduled as part of the program.
Overview of missions
When Artemis I launches, Orion’s journey will last 42 days as it travels to the moon, loops around it, and back to Earth – traveling a total of 1.3 million miles (2, 1 million km). Upon returning to Earth, the capsule will crash into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego.
Although the passenger list does not include any humans, it does have passengers: three mannequins and a stuffed Snoopy toy will ride Orion.
Expect to see views of Earthrise, similar to what was first shared during Apollo 8, but with much better cameras and technology.
The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will launch a phase of space exploration that will land various crews of astronauts in previously unexplored regions of the moon and ultimately offer crewed missions to Mars.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained the incorrect height of the Artemis 1 stack on the launch pad.