TITUSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — NASA will make another attempt this weekend to launch the historic Artemis I mission after the first attempt was scrubbed on Monday.
The agency confirmed Tuesday evening that the next launch attempt is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 3. The two-hour launch window is set to open at 2:17 p.m. ET.
The announcement was made during a teleconference with Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin, Artemis Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson and Space Launch System (SLS) Program Manager John Honeycutt.
Artemis I was initially set to launch on Monday morning but NASA teams spent several hours troubleshooting different problems before the launch window opened. The launch director eventually scrubbed Monday’s attempt due to an issue with one of the rocket’s engines. According to NASA, teams had trouble “getting one of the four RS-25 engines on the bottom of the rocket’s core stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff.”
After the launch was scrubbed, engineers stayed on-site to gather data on what went wrong. During Tuesday’s update, Honeycutt indicated the issue with getting the engine to the right temperature range may actually be due to a faulty sensor.
“The way the sensor is behaving does not line up with the physics of the situation,” he said.
The mission’s management team met Tuesday afternoon before the teleconference to discuss how to move forward.
“We agreed on what was called ‘Option 1,’ which is to operationally change the loading procedure and start our engine chill-down earlier,” Sarafin explained. “We also agreed to do some work at the pad to address the leak that we saw at the hydrogen tail service mast umbilical.”
Weather during Saturday’s launch window is expected to be less favorable than it was on Monday. Launch Weather Officer Mark Berger said during the teleconference the probability for a weather violation during the countdown appears “rather high.”
“We will have a fairly strong onshore flow so that does favor showers and possibly a few thunderstorms moving in from the coast during the morning and early afternoon hours, so we’ll have to watch that as far as tanking,” Berger said.
If the launch has to be scrubbed again on Saturday, the earliest NASA could make another attempt would be Monday.
“With all scrubs, it depends on the reason you scrub. That really drives your turnaround,” Blackwell-Thompson said. “But provided that it was a weather issue, we are driven by replenishment of our commodities – hydrogen being the primary driver. We could go as soon as Monday, so 48 hours in our turnaround.”
The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft were still sitting at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B as of Tuesday evening. There were concerns after Monday’s scrub that the rocket would have to be rolled back into the vehicle assembly building.
Once Artemis I lifts off, the mission will travel a total of about 1.3 million miles. The mission is the first step in NASA’s plan to send us back to the moon, establish a long-term presence on the lunar surface and eventually send astronauts to Mars.