NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky).

Engine Problems Force NASA To Cancel Artemis I Launch

An issue with one of the rocket's four engines forced the team to cancel the launch of Artemis I.

NASA’s new moon rocket —Artemis I mission— did not launch as planned this Monday due to a technical issue with one of the spacecraft’s engines, leaving a large ground in attendance disappointed.

On Monday, the Space Launch System, a giant, 322-foot rocket that will rocket astronauts to the Moon within a generation, was supposed to have blasted off into space and en route to the Moon, but this was not the case. 

 Next weekend, NASA may be able to launch again, but it depends on how quickly the problem can be diagnosed and fixed. Otherwise, engine parts would shrink suddenly due to the temperature shock caused by supercold propellants.

One of the rocket’s four core-stage engines wasn’t adequately chilled prior to ignition because of a problem with the liquid hydrogen line.

During debut launch attempts, technical difficulties are not uncommon. In 1981, NASA canceled the space shuttle flight during the countdown as it was about to launch. A two-day delay followed before the launch.

As the rocket’s propellant tanks were filled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, a 45-minute delay was caused by nearby thunderstorms, which delayed the start of the countdown that began on Saturday.

The liquid oxygen tank was filled without incident, but a leak in a fuel line connected to the bottom of the rocket was detected when the liquid hydrogen tank was filled. 

In April, there was a similar problem reported during a practice countdown.

As a result of the engineers’ efforts, the hydrogen tank was able to be filled once again.

However, the hydrogen issue that arose later in the countdown today was unlike the one in April, NASA reported. A number of troubleshooting attempts failed to resolve the issue, so the launch was canceled.

Liquid hydrogen and oxygen are diverted around the four engines in the final seconds of the countdown to cool them before ignition. Three of the hydrogen lines worked after being completed this morning, as did all the oxygen lines.

However, the fourth hydrogen line was not fully operational.

This was the first test of the engine chill down, which usually occurs in the final seconds before launch. 

Early this year, countdown rehearsals for the rocket were cut short by technical difficulties, but officials believed that its critical test objectives had been met, so the launch preparations went forward.

To allow troubleshooting in the event of a problem during Monday’s countdown, a chill-down test was added earlier.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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