NASA cancels second Artemis I launch attempt after hazardous leak detected

NASA cancels second Artemis I launch attempt after hazardous leak detected

N Melo
by N Melo
September 3, 2022 0

NASA cancels second Artemis I launch attempt after hazardous leak detected

The $4.1 billion test flight is designed to be the first step in NASA’s Artemis program of renewed lunar exploration.

NASA on Saturday called off another attempt to launch the agency’s new moon rocket on a key test flight after a hazardous leak was detected during the fueling process.

The leak occurred as the launch team began loading nearly 1 million gallons of fuel into the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA. A prior liftoff attempt Monday was halted by a bad engine sensor and leaking fuel.

As the sun rose over the launch pad, an over-pressure alarm sounded and the tanking operation was briefly halted, but no damage occurred and the effort resumed. But minutes later, hydrogen fuel began leaking from the engine section at the bottom of the rocket. NASA halted the operation, while engineers scrambled to plug what was believed to be a gap around a seal in the supply line.

NASA had a two-hour-long launch window Saturday to get the rocket into orbit.

NASA wants to send the crew capsule atop the rocket around the moon, pushing it to the limit before astronauts get on the next flight. If the test flights are successful, astronauts could fly around the moon in 2024 and land on it in 2025. People last walked on the moon 50 years ago.

On Monday, hydrogen fuel escaped from elsewhere in the rocket. Technicians tightened up the fittings over the past week, but launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson stressed that she wouldn’t know whether everything was tight until Saturday’s fueling.

Even more of a problem on Monday, a sensor indicated one of the rocket’s four engines was too warm, but engineers later verified it was cold enough. The launch team planned to ignore the faulty sensor this time around and rely on other instruments to ensure each main engine was properly chilled.

Before igniting, the main engines need to be as frigid as the liquid hydrogen fuel flowing into them at minus-420 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-250 degrees Celsius). If not, the resulting damage could lead to an abrupt engine shutdown and aborted flight.

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