NASA cancels second launch attempt for Artemis lunar rocket

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – For the second time in five days, NASA on Saturday halted the ongoing countdown and postponed a planned attempt to launch the first test flight of its next-generation super rocket, the first. The agency’s Artemis program mission from the Moon to Mars.

The latest attempt to launch the 32-story Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion capsule has been scrapped after repeated attempts by technicians to patch a leak of supercooled liquid hydrogen fuel pumped into the vehicle’s primary stage fuel tanks. .

Besides the struggle to address the leak itself, the difficulty caused task managers to delay the countdown, leaving little time to complete pre-launch preparations before takeoff.

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Pre-flight operations for the day were called off about three hours before the two-hour target launch window opened at 2:17 PM EDT (1817 GMT).

There was no immediate word on a retry time frame for the launch of the mission, dubbed Artemis I. But NASA may schedule another attempt for Monday or Tuesday.

Monday’s initial launch attempt was thwarted by technical difficulties during the eleventh hour that surfaced during the countdown, including a different leaky fuel line, a faulty temperature sensor and some cracks in the insulation foam. NASA officials said these issues had previously been resolved to their satisfaction.

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Reporting by Joey Rowlett in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles Editing by Lisa Schumaker, Frances Kerry and Chizu Nomiyama

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