Artemis launch: Second attempt called off by Nasa after fuel leak

US space agency will have another opportunity for moon rocket launch early next week

The US space agency Nasa has again postponed the planned launch of its new moon rocket due to technical issues.

The new rocket, known as the space launch system, had been scheduled to blast off from Florida on Saturday afternoon, local time.

However, the plan was abandoned after engineers failed to resolve a liquid hydrogen leak that they had spent most of the morning trying to address.

On Saturday morning, local time, Nasa said: “We have a scrub for the day, a cutoff, of the launch attempt for Artemis 1,”

READ MORE

Liquid hydrogen is one of the propellants used in the main core stage of the rocket.

This is the second time in a week that Nasa has been forced to cancel the planned launch. On Monday the launch was called off due to apparent problems with the temperature of one of its engines.

Nasa will have another opportunity for a launch early next week. However, if this deadline is missed the rocket may have to be rolled back to the main assembly building at the Kennedy Space Centre for maintenance. This could lead to a delay of several weeks in the launch.

The space launch system is the most powerful rocket ever developed by the US space programme.

It, along with the new Orion space-craft, are the main elements of the Artemis programme to bring American astronauts back to the moon after 50 years and later on to the planet Mars.

The current mission, known as Artemis 1, is uncrewed and is essentially a test flight to put the various parts of the system through their paces. Nasa particularly wants to test the heat shield which will have to protect astronauts from searing temperatures on their return to the earth.

If the test flight is successful, Nasa plans to send a crewed mission to lunar orbit in 2024.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent