NASA Calls Off Additional Artemis I Launch Attempts In Early September

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Following two scrubbed tries, NASA says it is standing down from further Artemis I launch attempts in early September. The first launch attempt, which took place on Aug. 29, was called off after one of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s four RS-25 engines failed to reach the proper temperature range for liftoff. On Sept. 3, the second attempt was scrubbed due to a hydrogen leak in a quick disconnect on the line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the SLS, an issue also encountered but successfully dealt with during the first attempt.

According to NASA, three unsuccessful attempts were made to reseat the quick disconnect seal during the second launch attempt. The agency also reported that “an inadvertent command was sent that temporarily raised the pressure in the system” during an early phase of hydrogen loading operations. NASA emphasized that it is not yet known if the accidental pressure increase contributed to the leak.

“Over the next several days, teams will establish access to the area of the leak at Launch Pad 39B, and in parallel conduct a scheduled assessment to provide additional data that will inform a decision on whether to perform work to replace a seal either at the pad, where it can be tested under cryogenic conditions, or inside the Vehicle Assembly Building [VAB],” NASA said on Saturday. “To meet the requirement by the Eastern Range for the certification on the flight termination system, currently set at 25 days, NASA will need to roll the rocket and spacecraft back to the VAB before the next launch attempt to reset the system’s batteries.”

The current launch window for Artemis I closes Sept. 6. The next window runs Sept. 19 through Oct. 4 and includes 14 launch opportunities. Artemis I, an uncrewed flight test of the SLS and the Orion spacecraft, is intended to be the first of a series of missions aimed at landing people on the Moon for the first time since 1972.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Good call. Despite what NASA PR would like you to believe, every space flight is still an expensive “test” flight in one way or another.

  2. Filling and draining the rocket’s fuel and oxidizer tanks is an amazing feat of American engineering. Suggest AVWeb do an article on that topic.

    • There were plenty of failures and setbacks in the 1960s too. You might recall the fire in Apollo 1 that killed the entire crew. NASA’s miniscule budget would likely evaporate completely if they were to have a repeat of the Apollo 1 fire.

  3. I’m not feeling clear that they are actually one flight from putting people on this thing… I appreciate the caution, and this is actually normal for a new vehicle.

    • They are cutting corners right and left. The Orion capsule atop this stack lacks the life support and other systems the first manned mission requires, which I believe is the NEXT mission. So THIS mission (if it ever gets off the ground) will not test systems critical to the entire point of the SLS missions.

  4. Why spend all these billions just to do something we already accomplished 50 years ago. What am I missing here?

    • Steven what you’re missing here is that we’re not doing something we already accomplished 50 years ago. We’re attempting far more. You’ll need to read more than this news clip and these comments for an update.

  5. Wally R,
    There was a good article here a few days ago regarding the changes in the development and launch protocols from the ’60s until today. Basically it boiled down to “cheap – fast – reliable, pick any two”. The budget today is a fraction of what it was in the ’60s and the testing protocol has changed significantly because of that. I suspect that if the Challenger STS mission had been conducted only in certified conditions (certified from test results), the SRB seal probably wouldn’t have failed resulting in the loss of that mission. NASA’s budget has been tremendously reduced since the initial push to the moon, but goals have only been postponed.

  6. So much nonsense the commentary, here and elsewhere.

    SpaceX? Really, they’re essentially at the Gemini 9 level right now. Able to launch into low earth orbit, dock and recover. They’re “Starship” hasn’t flown, and hasn’t proven that it can do it’s proposed mission at all. Starship will be the delay on the next moon landing. Watch.

    People who weren’t alive during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo programs are ignorant of the challenges because they don’t read, and simply parrot commentary from lay people. They suffer from a lack of depth, and aren’t aware of funding battles and structure, and why Orion is configured the way it is- Congress specifically mandated the re-use of existing engines, which forced engineers to use SRB for initial boost.

    • SpaceX is developing at a rate that NASA should have been capable of mimicking; instead, far more money was spent. Starship cannot be the delay on the next moon landing, as SLS/Artemis already holds that title.
      I’m not ignorant of the challenges; I grew up in that era, and my father had some small part in the Apollo program. But only one company is really tackling the challenge, and fixing what breaks quickly.

      • If NASA had a steady, reliable funding source like SpaceX does, they probably would be developing at a similar pace. But NASA has had their funding changed so often, it’s a wonder they even are as far along as they are. Nothing disrupts engineers’ work more than starting and stopping on a project because they have funding then don’t have funding.

  7. NASA actually has problems in two areas. The first is Congress constantly trying to cut their funding, and the second is Congress telling them how to design and build a rocket. As if Congress can design or make anything other than bad legislation! The biggest problem with that is that they have to go with an expendable booster concept because of the engines and other left over components. It is tempting to go back to the F-1 engines from the Saturn V, but the subcontractors disposed of the tooling and much of the plans for those engines years ago. Plus, the F-1 ran on LOX and kerosene, while the shuttle engines use liquid hydrogen – a whole different set of design problems. Back in the early days of the space program, these kinds of problems came up often, but no one got upset because they were kind of expected. We tend to forget how far we have come and “routine” launches with proven technology make it look easy. Any new and complex booster will have issues that need to be worked out. Going to space is hard.

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