NASA is hoping to get the new rocket airborne by the end of the month.
Earlier this month, NASA prepared for the inaugural launch of their Artemis program’s new mission to the moon. The first rocket of the mission, the Artemis I, was ready on the launch pad, but the launch had to be aborted due to engine problems later identified as a liquid hydrogen leak. NASA wants to make double-sure that their rocket is in flying shape before trying again, so they have been conducting a lengthy trial of tests and inspections.
According to NASA, they are shooting to have these inspections finished by the end of September, and attempt the launch of Artemis I on either the 23rd or 27th. In order to meet that date, though, NASA will need to obtain permissions and waivers from the US Space Force, particularly in regards to the rechargeable batteries on the rocket’s Flight Termination System.
“If they decide that is not the right thing to do, we obviously will support that and stand down and look for our next launch attempt,” Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. “But we still will press with the tanking test,” he added, referring to tests on the liquid hydrogen storage tanks.
NASA eyes late September for another Artemis I launch attempt https://t.co/dZoFeoCvdf pic.twitter.com/rEefwBGwSi
— The Verge (@verge) September 9, 2022
NASA is still investigating what, precisely, caused the original liquid hydrogen leak. “Our management team apologize to [the operator in charge of overseeing the process] because we had made some manual procedure changes between the attempt on Monday and attempt on Saturday,” Free said. “We practiced it during the week but they’d only had a couple of chances. So we didn’t as a leadership team, put our our operators in the best place we could have we rely really heavily on our credit team.”