In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft aboard the Mobile Launcher rolls out of High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building for the first time en route to Launch Complex 39B on March 17, 2022 at the Space Kennedy Center, Florida.
NASA Getty Images
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA delayed the debut of its big moon rocket on Monday after problems arose during the countdown, delaying the launch from the Kennedy Space Center.
The agency was scheduled to launch its Artemis I mission during a two-hour launch window that opened at 8:33 a.m. ET, sending the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule on a more than month-long journey around the moon.
But NASA was unable to resolve a temperature problem discovered in one of the four liquid-fuel engines discovered with less than two hours left in the countdown.
In a blog post, NASA said its “engineers are looking at ways to collect as much data as possible.”
“The Artemis I rocket and spacecraft are in a stable and safe condition,” NASA said.
On Monday, NASA also discovered a hydrogen leak in the engines and a crack in the thermal protection system material that protects the rocket’s core — though those problems were fixed before the planned launch window.
The agency has backup launch dates scheduled for Sept. 2 and Sept. 5, though it’s unclear whether the issues will be resolved by then.
The unmanned launch of Artemis I marks the debut of the most powerful rocket ever assembled and the start of NASA’s long-awaited return to the lunar surface. It is the first mission in NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which is expected to land the agency’s astronauts on the moon before a third mission in 2025.
While Artemis I will not carry astronauts or land on the moon, the mission is critical to demonstrating that NASA’s monster rocket and deep space capsule can deliver on the promised capabilities. Artemis I has been delayed for years and the program is billions over budget.
This story is evolving. Check for updates.