NASA's Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B in the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, the United States on Aug. 17, 2022. (Photo credit: NASA)
"The launch of Artemis I is no longer happening today as teams work through an issue with an engine bleed. Teams will continue to gather data," NASA tweeted.
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- NASA postponed the launch of the Artemis I lunar mission on Monday due to an issue with an engine bleed.
The launch of the agency's mega moon rocket and integrated Orion spacecraft was initially scheduled at 8:33 a.m. Monday Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (1233 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The approximately two-day countdown for launch began Saturday, and was waved off after encountering an issue getting one of the four RS-25 engines on the bottom of the rocket's core stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff, said NASA.
"The launch of Artemis I is no longer happening today as teams work through an issue with an engine bleed. Teams will continue to gather data," NASA tweeted Monday.
Engine 3 is not properly being conditioned through the bleed process, and engineers are troubleshooting, said NASA.
Launch controllers were continuing to evaluate why a bleed test to get the RS-25 engines on the bottom of the core stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff was not successful, and ran out of time in the two-hour launch window, according to an update from NASA. "Engineers are continuing to gather additional data."
The mission management team will convene Tuesday afternoon to discuss the data and develop a plan forward, according to NASA.
The next possible opportunity to send the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft on their journey is Friday, Sept. 2, during a two-hour launch window that opens at 12:48 p.m. EDT, according to NASA. The next window beyond is next Monday, Sept. 5.
"It's too early to say what the options are," said Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager at a NASA press conference. "We really need time to look at all the information, all the data. We're going to play all nine innings here. We're not ready to give up yet."
Sarafin said the launch team knew that the bleed test was a risk because they were not able to include it in previous wet dress rehearsal tests simulating the launch, and Monday was the first time demonstrating that.
The team also saw an issue with the vent valve at the inner tank and the combination of issues convinced the team they needed more time, according to Sarafin.
Both the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain in a safe and stable configuration, according to NASA.
The uncrewed launch is the first mission in NASA's Artemis lunar program, which is expected to land the agency's astronauts on the moon by its third mission in 2025.
When Artemis I launches, the Orion spacecraft will travel about 1.3 million miles over the course of 42 days. When it returns to Earth, the capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean, according to NASA.
The primary goals for Artemis I are to demonstrate Orion's systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with crew on Artemis II, according to NASA. ■