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The Financial Express

Fuel leak ruins NASA's second shot at launching moon rocket

| Updated: September 22, 2022 15:28:58


NASA’s next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with its Orion crew capsule perched on top, as it stands on launchpad 39B in preparation for the unmanned Artemis 1 mission at Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, Aug 27, 2022. REUTERS/Joe Skipper NASA’s next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with its Orion crew capsule perched on top, as it stands on launchpad 39B in preparation for the unmanned Artemis 1 mission at Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, Aug 27, 2022. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

For the second time in five days, NASA on Saturday halted a countdown in progress and postponed a planned attempt to launch the debut test flight of its giant, next-generation rocket, the first mission of the agency's moon-to-Mars Artemis programme, reports Reuters. 

The latest attempt to launch the 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion capsule was scrubbed after repeated attempts by technicians to correct a leak of super-cooled liquid hydrogen propellant being pumped into the vehicle's core-stage fuel tanks.

Besides struggling to remedy the leak itself, the difficulty caused mission managers to fall behind in the countdown, leaving too little time to complete pre-launch preparations before liftoff.

Pre-flight operations were called off for the day about three hours before the targeted two-hour launch window was due to open at 2:17pm EDT (1817 GMT).

There was no immediate word on a time frame for retrying to launch the mission, dubbed Artemis I. But NASA could schedule another attempt for Monday or Tuesday.

An initial launch try on Monday was foiled by 11th-hour technical difficulties that surfaced during the countdown, including a different leaky fuel line, a faulty temperature sensor and some cracks in insulation foam. NASA officials said those issues had been previously resolved to their satisfaction.

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