Artemis I: NASA's troubleshooting efforts ‘did not fix’ leak FOILING second launch attempt

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The problem in the eight-inch hydrogen line has been traced to a cavity in the quick disconnect where the flight side and ground side plates join.

NASA engineers attempted three times to troubleshoot the problem during this afternoon’s tanking process.

This included twice shutting down the flow of liquid hydrogen to the core stage tank and allowing the system to warm up, in an attempt to reseat the quick disconnect and get a proper seal.

Unfortunately, none of the procedures appear to have worked. Following a recommendation for a “no-go” from the launch team, Artemis launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson announced that the launch will once again be postponed.

NASA spokesperson Rachel Kraft said: “Teams encountered a liquid hydrogen leak while loading the propellant into the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket.

“Multiple troubleshooting efforts to address the area of the leak by reseating a seal in the quick disconnect where liquid hydrogen is fed into the rocket did not fix the issue.

“Engineers are continuing to gather additional data.”

Fellow NASA spokesperson Derrol Nail added that the launch team is presently in the process of deconfiguring the rocket and detanking the liquid oxygen fuel from the core stage.

Today’s scrub follows the previous launch attempt, last Monday, which was also aborted — albeit for different reasons.

At the time, it appeared that one of the rocket’s four main engines was reading as too hot during engine bleed tests.

However, following analysis of the issue, Space Launch System (SLS) programme manager John Honecutt announced on Thursday that the apparent problem was in fact just a reading from a “bad sensor”.

NASA had said that today’s launch attempt would see engineers ignore any such incorrect information.

It remains unclear when the launch of the Artemis I mission will go ahead.

NASA leaders are expected to hold a press conference later today, during which a revised schedule may be announced.

Previously, the space agency had said that a suitable launch window was available on Monday September 5.

However, whether or not the engineers are able to ready the rocket for a third launch attempt by then is not yet known.

When it does finally get off the ground, Artemis I is to be the first in a series of “increasingly complex” lunar missions.

Its successor, Artemis II — currently scheduled to blast off in May 2024 — will build on the first mission by carrying astronauts into orbit around the Moon.

Then in 2025, Artemis III will see humanity return to the surface of the Moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

Two of the mission’s four-strong crew will reach the lunar surface from orbit on board SpaceX’s Starship Human Landing System.

And one of those two astronauts will make history by being the first-ever woman to step foot on the lunar surface.

NASA have also said that the Artemis missions will see the first person of colour walk on the Moon.

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